Founded in 1914, the original New York City location of Sterling Optical doled out frames amid the Ford Model Ts and paperboys that swarmed the city's financial district. The original band of eyesight experts weathered years of economic depression by impressing customers with speedy, full-service vision care, later launching a second store near Washington, DC. Today, a century of steady franchise expansion has given rise to almost 200 store locations in 23 states. Most locations continue the tradition of offering one-stop optical services, giving customers access to exams and onsite labs that manufacture glasses in one hour. The spectacle provider has been named one of the nation's leading franchises by Entrepreneur magazine.
The affability and expertise of Eyes on Main's staff prompted the readers of What's Up Mag to name the practice Annapolis's Best Local Optician in 2010, 2011, and 2012. By performing thorough routine eye examinations, the optometrists help to diagnose specific eye issues along with determining any changes in lens prescription. Opticians and frame stylists also help patients to adopt new eyewear from the more than 300 stylish frames—including styles from Pro Design, Waza, and BCBG—that stock Eyes on Main's plentiful shelves.
Somewhere among the rows of illuminated display cases that flaunt Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Arnette shades, a furry snout pokes out, sniffs twice, and returns to its brightly colored chew toy. The snout belongs to the official mascot at Shades of the Bay: Allie, a 13-year-old beagle who spends her days nuzzling visitors and frolicking amid shelves piled high with sunglasses and Reef flip-flops. Across the street lies Shades of the Bay’s sister store—Shades Unlimited—which also boasts a large collection of sunglasses from top designers, both polarized and nonpolarized. At either location, a knowledgeable staff helps lead customers to shades that flatter faces or transform sock puppets into trendy companions.
Though there are 130 For Eyes Optical stores around the United States, the company still has the heart of a small start-up. Owned and operated since 1972, when a small group of friends started it in Philadelphia, aiming for quality eyewear manufacturing as well as customer service. These same friends, aided by a few family members, still lead the franchise today. They ensure that each location adheres to their original principles and mandates for mustard-colored shag carpets.
In each store, expert independent doctors test clients' visual acuity and general eye health with comprehensive exams. Then, a store associate helps each person outfit their eyes with designer frames by brands such as Ray-Ban, Prada, D&G, and Versace. For Eyes Optical has its own advanced 40,000-square foot optical lab in in Hialeah, Florida, where technicians shape, surface, and coat the lenses to fit each person's exact prescription. After creating the lenses—whether plastic, polycarbonate, or trivex Toughlites—they inspect and fit each into its corresponding frame by hand, a process that ensures quality control and guards against the robots, whose first objective is to hinder our eyesight.