One nippy Tuesday morning, Oliver H. Gerry swung open a set of doors inside the Grand Avenue Temple in downtown Kansas City. It was January 23, 1912, and that unfurled entranceway symbolized the first day Gerry Optical was open for business. In the 100 years since, professionally trained technicians have prepared eyewear to complement the styles of countless clients, including President Harry Truman and Senator Nancy Kassebaum. Today, each of the store's nine locations carries between 800 and 1,200 frames from brands such as Calvin Klein, Ray-Ban, Prada, and BCBG, and the flagship store on 75th Street also houses its own grinding lab to quickly custom-craft lenses and fix cracks after cartoon eye-popping mishaps. To honor its deep community roots, Gerry Optical gives back by partnering with Lions Clubs International to provide discount eye exams and eyeglasses to underprivileged families.
With its showroom's contemporary setup and staff's personalized attention, Romanelli Optix diverges from the average optical center. Backed by more than 25 years of combined experience, Roman Beznovsky and Felix Milman opened the first Romanelli Optix in 2004. Today, the duo populates three Kansas City–area locations with frames in more than 60 brands such as Maui Jim, Tiffany & Co., and Fendi. At each location, customers are guided carefully through the options based on a variety of factors, including their prescriptions and facial features. Onsite adjustments make the process even easier, including meticulous custom-cut assembly performed in nearby boutiques.
In 1986, Dr. Vincinet Pennipede, O.D was fresh out of the military and opening up his first office off of Highway 69. There, he put in long hours and built a base of clients. Today, he oversees a team of eight optometrists and 35 qualified employees at five offices in the Kansas City area. Patrons peruse each warmly-lit furnished studio's collection of frames from high-end labels such as Silhouette and Coach. In-office labs create futuristic lenses of high-index plastic or hybrid Trivex quickly for patrons who need to return to work or judge a beauty pageant for snowflakes. Children protect their new specs with the store's Kid's Promise warranty, and adults consult with experienced doctors on the benefits of refractive surgery and restorative treatments for aging eyes.
At Insight Vision Center, optometrists Neal D. Troyer and Justin E. Weigel manage and treat a range of ocular diseases and co-manage all surgical cases. The doctors lead a bilingual staff of skilled opticians who treat customers in English and Spanish. They also delve into continuing education and test up-to-date optical instruments such as goggles with underwater x-ray vision. Drawing from their extensive training, they perform a range of services such as diabetic, pediatric, contact-lens, and comprehensive eye exams, as well as LASIK procedures and corneal-refractive therapy. They also fit faces for designer frames by Ray-Ban, Gucci, Vera Bradley, and Michael Kors and eyes for contact lenses by brands such as Acuvue, CooperVision, and Bausch & Lomb.
Leon Butler opened Brookside Optical in 1989 with the vision that all clients, even those with hard-to-correct eyesight, could have access to stylish eyewear. Today, the shelves stock colorful frames ($100+) by small manufacturers and such designers as l.a. Eyeworks, Theo, and Anne et Valentin. Whether in retro cat-eye shapes or planted with futuristic jet packs, each pair of glasses is crafted by the on-site lab and ready to wear within days.
Regardless of which of the hundreds of Target Portrait Studio locations you meander into, you can always count on a similar experience. Tucked into Target retail locations throughout the nation, each studio boasts a staff of professional photographers, premium lighting equipment, and advanced digital cameras. The seasoned crew takes pains to customize photo sessions to suit each customer's vision, setting up desired backgrounds and props before guiding families and high-school seniors through a mélange of poses. Afterward, customers will work with a professional to personalize their portraits with different special effects and styles, such as black and white or sepia tone. They then pick up their physical portraits at the studio in 7–10 days. If they don't feel like holding their breath that long to see the final products, they can access the images in an online gallery within 24 hours of the session, at which point they can order extra prints for gifts, collages, and greeting cards.