I cannot stop laughing at this story, #Roommates. A few social media influencers got tricked into paying $200, $400 and even $600 for a pair of #Payless shoes, all because they thought they were buying them from a fake, pop-up luxury store.

The discount shoe retailer set up an extravagant pop-up shop right between other high-end shops in Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and invited customers and social media influencers to get first dibs on their offerings, according to @cbsla.

What makes the gag even funnier is that the fake store was named ‘Palessi.’ “I could tell they were made with high-quality material,” said a man holding a pair of black high-top, lace-up sneakers with white soles, not knowing that most of those shoes only cost between $20 and $40.

One woman picked up a pair of black pumps with a floral print and said they were “elegant, sophisticated.”

Clearly the difference was in the branding, from the name to the location. The space the pop-up was held in was modern, with plush blue seats and lit-up displays that showcased the shoes. The center of the store featured a Romanesque statue, and shoppers were waited on by young, nicely-dressed employees.

“Palessi” made $3,000 in sales in just three hours. The experiment was set up by DCX Growth Accelerator and Payless’ Chief Creative Officer Doug Cameron believes it was a success.

“Well, we concluded that branding is a pretty strong force, if it’s able to get people to pay 18 times the price that they normally pay,” Cameron said.

The shoppers got their money back, but were allowed to keep the shoes. Payless says it plans to use the footage from the event for their upcoming ads.

#Roommates, will you be looking differently at Payless’ shoes now? Let us know!

TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh

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