In the words of the late Dr. Daniel Messinger, whose daughter and granddaughter now helm Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs, “We’ve been doing this for 100 years—we must be doing something right.” Overseen by the fourth and fifth generation of family that founded the company in 1888, the sense of history carries over into its opticians’ daily practice—they’ve been seeing many of their clients for decades, and bestow fast emergency services upon them whenever a client damages a lens or tries to stretch their frames to fit a family portrait inside. The personalized attention heaped upon each customer shines through in the services provided, which include technicians that grind and surface all lenses on-site in the flagship location’s lab, often fitting them into frames for next-day pick-up.
After raising her two children and earning a degree in fashion merchandising from Philadelphia University, Ruth Krass fulfilled her lifelong dream of opening a women's boutique. Alongside her husband Victor, owner of Krass Brothers, she began cultivating a fashion-forward collection of women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. The store's golden hangers hoist everything from sportswear by Alice and Olivia to elegant formal gowns from Badgley Mischka and Marchesa. Bedazzled Boutique has an extensive selection of prom dresses, as well as mother-of-the-bride dresses, for customers with forthcoming special occasions. Zsa Zsa, the store's canine mascot, welcomes each shopper with a friendly wag of the tail and candid one-on-one advice on styling and sizing choices.
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.
At Gimbel Eye Associates, certified optician Frank Gimbel and optometrist Dr. Barbara Karagiannopoulos pool their talents to help patients achieve total ocular health. Gimbel specializes in determining prescriptions, running patients through the phoropter's gamut of lenses to measure the acuity of each eye. Dr. Karagiannopoulos, meanwhile, checks eyes for signs of disease and works closely with ophthalmologists to co-manage surgeries and share ophthalmological riddles that no one else appreciates.
Inside the brightly lit store, wooden shelves teem with more than 2,000 frames and sunglasses from designers including Yves Saint Lauren, Hugo Boss, and Lacoste. An in-house finishing lab can produce glasses either at the same visit or the very next day.
French native Valerie Vittu created Margot & Camille Optique to pair clients with the European frame styles popular in her home country. Drawing from her experience working for designer Alain Mikli on Madison Avenue, Valerie selects unique, nonbranded eyewear that sets trends rather than follows them. Past designs have included efforts from Alain Mikli, Lafont, and Tom Davies's made-to-order Couture Horn collection of natural horn-rimmed frames. A hands-on presence in her shop, Valerie helps clients pick frames that fit their faces and styles, and she happily offers extended hours by appointment to accommodate clients who spend every daylight hour holding mirrors to the sky to see how the sun likes glare in its eyes.
Inside this immaculate Victorian Italianate building in Rittenhouse Square, optometrist Alissa Coyne conducts eye examinations alongside a dedicated staff of opticians and eyewear experts. Two show rooms display a selection of more than 2,500 frames by fashionable brands such as Salt. Optics or Oliver Peoples. Lens types range from standard plastic to Transitions-brand options that change tint when going from indoors to outdoors, and prescription and nonprescription sunglasses shield pupils from the sun's harmful rays and annoying habit of never wearing clothes.