WESTFIELD, NJ — When Ann Taylor shuttered its store on East Broad Street last year, leaving yet another storefront vacant in Downtown Westfield, it was the last thing the community wanted — especially Westfield’s Ward brothers, who own the commercial space.
Seven months later, the Wards have a fix — and they like how it looks. Selfie Stations NJ, “New Jersey’s First Selfie Museum,” is open for business. John Ward said his daughter inspired the concept.
“I came up with the idea watching my daughter on TikTok and doing all her dances in quarantine and thought it would be a good idea to create something where the young kids can get out of the house, go someplace and have some fun,” Ward said at an opening Thursday.
The Wards offer 22 “selfie stations” — sets essentially — ranging from one that has colorful spiraling toys hanging from the ceiling to another that features a massive red Teddy bear in a red room with the word “Feelings” glowing in neon lights on the back wall. Yet another features rotary telephones hanging from the wall.
What do those teens do in those rooms? Take selfies, of course.
Speaking to a reporter, East Coast USA Young Miss NJ Caila Barreiros, 16, of Lyndhurst, explained how lighted stands allow selfie-takers to tee-up their phones and set their camera's timer before striking poses among the spiraling toys, or next to the red Teddy, just two among the options.
Early on, word of the stations' anticipated arrival generated a buzz in the local student press. Westfield High School’s student newspaper, the Hi’s Eye, predicted Selfie Stations NJ would become “Westfield’s Newest Hangout Spot.”
James Ward said the stations are also becoming something more: a regional draw.
“Since it’s open, we’ve been doing incredibly well. Seventy percent of the people who are coming, are coming from New York City, Brooklyn, Queens,” James Ward said. “We’ve had people from Staten Island, the Jersey Shore, so we’re bringing people in from all over the place.”
The Wards are calling the venture a “pop-up,” implying that it'll be there for a limited time; however, John Ward told TAPinto Westfield they'll keep the museum open as long as there is consumer demand for it.
General admission is $22 for adults, kids age 5-12 get in for $18; Free for youngsters age 4 and below. General admission gets you access to the 22 selfie stations for one hour. Larger party room rentals are also available. More details and pricing at www.selfiestationsnj.com.
The venture has received high praise from Westfield’s Mayor Shelley Brindle and Downtown Westfield Corporation Executive Director Bob Zuckerman, who both have hailed the business venture as a model investment during a down economy.