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.
For more than 90 years, Sterling Optical’s physicians and eyeglass specialists have paired peepers with stylish brand-name frames. Men, women, children, and seeing-impaired mannequins can browse frames by Coach, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, and Kenneth Cole (designer frames are $229+), among others such as Peachtree Eyewear ($119). Eyewear technicians forge lenses in about one hour before bestowing customers with two pairs of custom frames—one for daily wear and one for incognito trips to the grocery store. If within 30 days of their purchase patrons tire of frames with x-ray vision, Sterling Optical will gladly replace said specs with another pair of equal or lesser value.
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.
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.