Anneliese Townsend took the hardships the coronavirus pandemic presented to her business as an opportunity to reinvent it into what she bills as “the first and only” selfie lounge in New England.
Pour Bar & Selfie Lounge in Agawam recently reopened with 20 “experiences” created to appeal to the Instagram-obsessed: bright, glittery walls, a colorful mural painted by a local artist, and bold backdrops emblazoned with punchy statements (“On Wednesdays we wear pink”), for example. One wall features a moving projection with topical backdrop options, like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders huddled up with his mittens, or a classic family photo of the Roses from “Schitt’s Creek.”
Pour Bar originally opened in January 2020, but it closed three months later as the coronavirus upended daily life and local businesses. The bar reopened in late June, but it struggled.
“It was a tough time to open a business, but we stuck it out until December and then I just couldn’t keep the doors open any longer,” Townsend told Boston.com. “So I was thinking of something that I’d heard about probably about six months before it. Somebody somewhere on one of the feeds I read said something about a selfie museum … Back then six months ago, I was like, ‘That’s the best business idea I’ve ever heard of.’ So, when we did shut down, I’d forgotten about it at that point.”
Then it clicked.
“‘I thought, ‘Oh my god, that’s it,'” recalled Townsend, who also co-owns The Agawam Axe House. “… From a safety standpoint, I loved it. I knew it would be safe, and I knew that I could keep my customers safe.”
About half of the approximately 3,000 square-foot bar was converted into a selfie lounge with 20 backdrops, while the bar seats 12 tables that are spread out at a social distance. Inspired by traveling “selfie museum” pop-ups that fill Instagram feeds, Townsend said the lounge aims to be an interactive, do-it-yourself playground that leaves guests with high-quality photos.
Your stage is waiting!Only $15/adults and $10/for kids, get your #selfie out tonight at Pour. Open 5pm – 9pm.
“My main goal was to show that you could produce photos that were Instagram-worthy,” she said. “If you’re an influencer to that degree, we bought the ring lights and they’re on timers … so you can create perfect photographs on your own time. You don’t need a photographer.”
The selfie spaces were designed for minimal contact, and they are sanitized in between guests. Customers are required to wear masks up until the moment of the selfie.
Post-pandemic, Townshend said she hopes to incorporate fun costumes and props into the experience to bring the selfies onto another level, like a bathtub filled with rubber ducks or a luxurious chaise lounge shaped like a heeled shoe.
On Fridays and Saturdays, adult tickets cost $20, and kids tickets (age 6-12) are $15. On Thursdays through Sundays, adults are $15 and kids are $10. Photo sessions typically last around one hour.
Townsend’s key tips? Come with your phone fully charged and plenty of storage space.
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