BOARDMAN – The newest addition to Southern Park Mall in Boardman was inspired by social media platform TikTok, its co-owner says. The Selfie Space, which offers 25 distinct spaces for customers to take pictures and make videos, opened its doors March 6.
“This was a pipe dream back in November,” says Nicole Purington, a resident of Mineral Ridge who co-owns the business with her aunt, Mary Ann Kleese of Poland.
Purington says the idea for her venture came while looking through TikTok, the social media platform used to produce short-form videos. While using the TikTok app, she saw selfie museums in larger markets such as Los Angeles, Denver, Miami and Seattle and showed the concept to her aunt. “We’ve been partners since then,” she says.
The partners worked with specialty leasing at Southern Park Mall to bring the concept to life in the 6,435-square-foot space formerly occupied by PacSun, says mall marketing director Christina Cleary.
The concept fits into the ongoing evolution of malls from shopping centers to lifestyle spaces.
“We don’t want to create just a great retail experience for shoppers. We also want to give them that experience,” Cleary says.
Purington, who graduated from Marietta College with degrees in studio art and art history, created all of the backdrops, from freehand drawing the graffiti in one space to hand-gluing the feathers for angel wings in another space.
The Selfie Space differs from similar venues she’s seen elsewhere by offering an 1,800-square-foot event space that can be leased for birthday or bachelorette parties or other social occasions. It already has bookings, Purington says.
“We are living on social media right now. And it intensified with the pandemic,” she says. “Everyone was stuck inside and social media … is the way that we keep up with others and stayed close with our family and friends even though we couldn’t see them. This is a cool way to keep social media relevant and have fun things to do while using it.”
Cleary sees the venue’s appeal being beyond people who want to post on social media. It also provides an attractive option for photographers who need space and backdrops for different pictures, including Easter photos.
“There’s endless options,” she says. “They can target different audiences and not just target those people who are on TikTok and Instagram looking for their next new post for their social media.”
Pictured: Nicole Purington created all the backdrops at The Selfie Space.