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New Lawrence pop-up business built around the idea of taking crazy, unique selfies

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I don’t take selfies. I’m not quick enough anymore to get back in front of the camera. But lots of other people do take selfies, and there is a new Lawrence business built around the idea. The Selfie Boutique has opened along south Iowa Street.

Lawrence retailer Carolyn Richmond, the co-owner of the downtown boutique Fortuity, and Kansas City businessman Alex Altomare have teamed up to bring the Selfie Boutique to the space that formerly housed Kief’s Audio Video and later Boom Comics (Boom has moved to a smaller space next to Sears near 23rd and Iowa.)

The concept is simple enough: You pay a fee to enter the approximately 10,000 square foot building and then start taking selfies in front of all types of backdrops that you likely aren’t going to find elsewhere. Unless, of course, you happen to have a wall of slime in your house. A wall of slime is one of the backdrops, Richmond said.

She said the building has about 20 different areas or rooms where people can take unique photos. Those include: an all-pink room, including a pink couch and TV; a room full of crazy geometric shapes; a room full of comic books; and just for good measure, a room full of yarn and yarn art. (Hey, grandma’s Instagram account doesn’t fill itself.)

“You can sit on things, you can sit under things,” Richmond said. “There is so much cool stuff.”

The Selfie Boutique founder Alex Altomare, left, and Braydie Elliott, director of operations, have fun during a selfie portrait session on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at their business, 2429 Iowa St. The boutique, which offers dozens of selfie scenarios with different backdrops for visitors to explore, will be at the location until May 14.

The Selfie Boutique founder Alex Altomare, left, and Braydie Elliott, director of operations, have fun during a selfie portrait session on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at their business, 2429 Iowa St. The boutique, which offers dozens of selfie scenarios with different backdrops for visitors to explore, will be at the location until May 14. by Nick Krug

But you do still need to be quick to do all of this. No, not in the way I was talking about before. (I now realize I should be taking these with my phone, although I worry about tripping over the cord.) Lawrence’s Selfie Boutique is a pop up store, meaning it is open only seasonally. The store opened last week, and it is scheduled to close on May 14.

Altomare, who is in the venture capital business in Kansas City, previously has opened two of these pop-up Selfie Boutiques in Kansas City. Richmond, who owns a Fortuity store in the Crossroads district of Kansas City, knows Altomare, as both of them are active in the Kansas City art scene. Richmond said Altomare is the creator and driving force behind the Selfie Boutique concept, but they both thought Lawrence would be a good location to further test the idea. There are lots of young people who like to take selfies in Lawrence, but Lawrence’s reputation as an arts town also should be beneficial.

Providing a space for people to be creative is a big part of the Selfie Boutique concept. Richmond actually describes the space as an “interactive art museum.” The space is meant to be an affordable venue for people to do creative things visually. While you can take a selfie, obviously, you also can have someone else shoot the photo for you, or you can take photos of other willing models.

Plus, it also can just be a place to have fun, Richmond said. She said the space could be a good setting for a birthday party, unique family photos, and she thinks it might be popular for senior photos this time of year.

The business, 2429 Iowa St., charges people 11 and older $10 to enter the Selfie Boutique. They can take as many photos as they want, and the admission is good for the entire day, meaning they can leave and come back later in the day. Kids 10 and under are charged $5.

Two selfie backdrops are shown Thursday, April 19, 2018, at The Selfie Boutique, 2429 Iowa St. A rainbow backdrop and a multi-colored yarn installation are just two areas where photos can be taken.

Two selfie backdrops are shown Thursday, April 19, 2018, at The Selfie Boutique, 2429 Iowa St. A rainbow backdrop and a multi-colored yarn installation are just two areas where photos can be taken. by Nick Krug

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