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Away's store in NYC. Photo via Away on Twitter.

The big upside to brick-and-mortar shopping has always been instant gratification — you buy and take your stuff home immediately. But now retail startups are hard at work developing another perk: "Instagramification."

The big picture: New retailers are making sure millennials and Gen Zers have a reason to come into their stores — with state-of-the-art interior design as a backdrop to artsy Instagram posts.

New features showing up in hip stores around New York City and Los Angeles include brightly painted walls with catchy slogans and photoshoot-ready nooks decorated with props. A not-incidental added plus: Social posts are free advertising.

What we're seeing: The trend is common among companies that were digital first and got into brick-and-mortar second. They sit in stark contrast to the flickering fluorescents and tired beige stucco of old-school retailers.

  • Away, a luggage startup founded in 2015, now has five stores and several celebrity partnerships. It sees its stores as “profitable billboards," co-founder Jen Rubio said at Recode's Code Commerce conference in New York this week. Rubio said Away judges the success of its stores by how many Instagram posts they inspire.
  • Warby Parker, which also started online, collaborates with artists to outfit its stores with custom murals. Its sunglasses are organized by color. Both are perfect Insta backgrounds.
  • Melody Ehsani, a jewelry maker, does something similar in her stores, with neon signs and painted angel wings on walls that you can step into for a picture-perfect moment.

Go deeper: Your Entire City Is an Instagram Playground Now (CityLab)

Go deeper

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman will not run for re-election, citing "partisan gridlock"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.