Eyecare Business November

NOV 2017

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T his premium location in the tony Flatiron District in Manhattan has focused on luxury since opening in 1979. "Today," explains co-owner Ruth Domber, "being in the luxury marketplace means getting involved in the artisan end of eyewear. That's what drives today's luxury market. "To make it work," adds Domber, "you need a staff that is trained to sell and you need to pinpoint the right person for the right frame. You can't do that by buy- ing just a few pieces. If you don't know what you're doing, then stay away from luxury. "This isn't a tapas tasting," she says. "You need to buy deep because you can't represent a collection with just five pieces. You need no fewer than 24 pieces to represent it." But it's not just about working with frames, stresses Domber. "I really like working with the art- ists who create them," she says. "I don't just want frames that are attractive. I want frames from art- ists who have visions with styles, designs, materials, etc." But, she adds, even this focus works only if your staff is trained to deliver the product in the proper way. S urrounded by water on three sides, European Optical's exclusive South Coast High- way setting in Laguna Beach, CA, focuses on high-end frames. Running a business founded by her father, owner Astrid Chitamun remembers checking frames in when she was in third grade. But, things have changed. European Optical is more upscale since she took over—with most frames at $300 and above. "We are high-end, but you should always have something high- end even if you focus on lower price points," she urges. "It helps you push the envelope and give clients more options." Talking about her inventory strat- egy, Chitamun says, "Before I buy, I first consider what line it might compete with in my store. I have an average of 50 frames per line. I think you need that many to really show it." Unfortunately, her optical shop experienced a horrific theft 10 years ago—but Chitamun made lemonade out of the lemons served to her. "It really cleaned us out, but it also gave me a chance to rethink everything," she recalls. "I made a decision then that, because we're an independent boutique, we should carry products from family-owned businesses that tell a story. "So, when I look at lines now, I ask about the story—where it comes from, how it was designed, etc. When you tell the story, price doesn't matter. Plus, people here are craving to support indepen- dent businesses." 54 E y e c a r e B u s i n e s s . c o m November 2017 EB F E A T U R E T H E L U X U R Y M A R K E T Focus: LUXE 10/10 Optics, New York, NY RUTH DOMBER, optician and co-owner Focus: HIGH- END European Optical, Laguna Beach, CA ASTRID CHITAMUN, optician and owner THE DEETS 10/10 Optics Price Focus: Luxury Frame Price Range: $75-$4,000 Frame Merchandise Mix: 20%...under $300 retail (Mid-Range) 30%...$300-$499 retail (High-End) 50%...over $500 retail (Luxury) Frames on Display: 1,600 (1/6 on display; the rest in drawers) THE DEETS European Optical Price Focus: High-End Frame Price Range: $159-$800 Frame Merchandise Mix: 30%...under $200 retail 40%...$200-$399 retail 30%...$400 and up retail Frames on Display: 2,000+ "THIS ISN'T A TAPAS TASTING. YOU NEED TO BUY DEEP BECAUSE YOU CAN'T REPRESENT A COLLECTION WITH JUST FIVE PIECES. YOU NEED NO FEWER THAN 24 PIECES TO REPRESENT IT." —RUTH DOMBER "WE ARE HIGH-END, BUT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING HIGH-END EVEN IF YOU FOCUS ON LOWER PRICE POINTS. IT HELPS YOU PUSH THE ENVELOPE AND GIVE CLIENTS MORE OPTIONS." —ASTRID CHITAMUN 10/10 Optics in New York City European Optical in Laguna Beach, CA

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