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Thread: Discount frames bad for shop's appearance?

  1. #1
    Rising Star
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    Discount frames bad for shop's appearance?

    I wanted to get a socially-distanced and virtual feel from the community about their stance towards the concept of discount frames and how they might diminish the high-luster polish of an optical shop.

    Slap me silly and call me quixotic, but it's been my preference throughout my optical career to try to appeal to as many tastes and price points (within reason) as possible within whatever space I'm working with. Much like baseball scouting, I'm not going to rely purely on analytics or patient demand in what frames I buy - rather I try to use a nuanced approach that combines inspiration from both sources.

    As such, a doctor from a neighboring city tried to poach me from my current post on the battlefield of optics. Whilst I left my rampart temporarily (it was after the new pikeman took my stead) to listen to the offer at his castle, I made an observation of his "discount rack" that had a couple Enhance brand frames. I noted that he had some New York Eye frames and he immediately retorted that it was a mistake that his clinic had those, and that he disliked even having a discount rack that hurt the appearance of his otherwise modern optical shoppe.

    I get that his clinic is located in a pretty affluent area and that he has a fairly good selection of high-fashion frames, but is it such a disservice to a shop's supposed reputation for having *gasp* discount frames for patients that may not care about the lack of branding of a frame or want something utilitarian for a dedicated task? Or that positive word-of-mouth might make its way through the families of your area after your shop provided good service in helping a patient's nanna on a fixed income get a good but inexpensive pair of spectacles? If space isn't an issue (say, like keeping a couple trays of discount frames in a desk), wouldn't it be worthwhile to not lose a sale, especially when your sales volume is already pretty low?

    Anyone else out there have an opinion on this apparently abhorrent topic?

  2. #2
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter
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    I would say it is better to pick a demographic or niche for you optical. It's very difficult to be everything to everybody. The Michelin star restaurant isn't going to keep a bag of frozen chicken tenders around "just in case", and McDonald's isn't going to make you a Waygu ribeye. My store is independent higher end brands. I do have a small clearance section, but it's just for frames from the board that have been discontinued. I certainly would never buy extra, cheap frames, just to have a discount rack.

  3. #3
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter ak47's Avatar
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    Its always good to have basic frames available. Of course you don't need to keep them out on display...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak47 View Post
    Its always good to have basic frames available. Of course you don't need to keep them out on display...
    As long as it is not out on display I think it is fine. I never start there though, I only go there and pull out our most basic frames if a customer directs me to. "I only want what my insurance covers and nothing more!" To this I respond your insurance gives you X dollar allowance and also gives you 20% off of the difference. If after that they are still adamant about not wanting to pay anything then I would direct them to my bargain drawers.

  5. #5
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    Just put them in a dimly lit corner, in the back. Next to that guy leaning against the wall who is constantly flicking his eyes back and forth.

  6. #6
    OptiBoard Professional Excel-Lentes's Avatar
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    Your question is a good one, especially in these uncertain economic times. I have used “budget friendly” products in our low income area for 20 years. Having a collection of low cost frames on hand might be a good idea to help certain folks from walking out your door. You know the type of folks that wear contacts most of the time and need some glasses for occasional use. Or someone that needs some reading glasses to keep around the house, etc..

    How this might taint an otherwise stylish, modern optical would be in the eye of the beholder. I would recommend buying some frame rep style trays and start with 24 styles. Keeping them separated as mentioned previously is a good idea if you don’t want to have this take up board space and prevent customers from selecting better product. Most consumers won’t be able to discern between a high quality frame and a budget frame.

    One last consideration; if you dabble in budget eyewear be prepared to deal with the occasional lemon. After going through thousands of frames year after year I have seen every manufacturer put out the occasional junk frame that looked good upon inspection only to turn up falling apart in short order. I always keep on hand multiples for replacement (New York Eye as you mentioned). They are quite affordable. If a customer gets a lemon it certainly could sour their taste for your store. Being able to replace or repair quickly could help maintain a strong relationship between you and that customer.

  7. #7
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter
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    While in the Boston area, I checked out some optical stores. One of them only sold very inexpensive frames for rather high prices. They had about 200 frames on display in the whole store. They were doing a great job with their displays, however, and even their Eye-Q frames looked good in them.

  8. #8
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter lensmanmd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe View Post
    While in the Boston area, I checked out some optical stores. One of them only sold very inexpensive frames for rather high prices. They had about 200 frames on display in the whole store. They were doing a great job with their displays, however, and even their Eye-Q frames looked good in them.
    WP does a nice job with their displays.

    As for stocking lower priced frames, you really need to take a long, hard, logical look at your business model. Are you a boutique offering high end? Are you local shop catering to the neighborhood? What is your demographic?

    Budget frames bring a surprisingly high ROI, even with the higher rate of defective frames.

    My 2 quids
    I bend light. That is what I do.

  9. #9
    Rising Star
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    I work at a high-end shop at the oceanfront in Virginia. We've been in business over seventy years and we've gone from a shop that sold only core product to our average frame being between $600 - 700. We keep a small selection of Enhance frames in our back room. We have some customers that just can't afford those prices, as we take no insurance. Some of our faithful customers are in their 80's and 90's. They don't want to spend a lot of money on their glasses and appreciate the fact we keep some things here "just for them." That being said, we have a lot of customers in their 70's and 80's who love Face a Face or Chrome Hearts. We also make glasses for our local Lion's Club, so we use the Enhance line for those. We can't be everything to everyone, but we sure try.
    ''

  10. #10
    Master OptiBoarder AngeHamm's Avatar
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    Only you can determine whether having lower-end frames detracts from the vibe you're trying to establish with your office. As far as business is concerned, I can only remind you that frames require lenses, and lenses can be very profitable in frames of any price. Having a lower-cost frame option can help enormously with your capture rate and multiple pair sales.
    I'm Andrew Hamm and I approve this message.

  11. #11
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    I even thought of packaging some el-cheapos and calling them "generic glasses". Sorta IKEA.

    Then I thought of a "clearance rack" concept (whether they were actually clearance or not didn't matter...) Sort of like Nordstrom's Rack.

    Heck, you could even get a treasure chest and let people pick through it (that would be fun).


    But what always gets me is that I'm going to have to provide equally good service on all glasses. Where is that margin going to come from?

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