Glasses — And How They Went the Way of the Snail

A customer of ours relayed a story that struck us as worth exploring. They had recently been in New York City, when their glasses were damaged beyond repair. Being strongly nearsighted, they couldn’t function well without them. Naturally, they weren’t overly concerned about being able to get a new pair made that day. After all, they were in the commerce and fashion capital of the country. Certainly plenty of optical stores could help them out.
They were wrong.

A few dozen phone calls later, they were finally able to find an optical in Manhattan that could do it. The only catch — it was a small boutique store, undoubtedly with incredibly fashionable frames. The least expensive frame in the store was over $250, with lenses an additional $175. Apparently one needs an almost unlimited budget to have it done.

When we began working in the industry around 20 years ago, it wasn’t like this. A good number of eye doctor offices made same-day glasses, and commercials ran for “Glasses in about an hour”. In other words, we have clearly somehow gone backwards in this age of Amazon. It all happened so slowly that no one seemed to notice — that “back in the day” you used to get a simple pair of glasses made in hours, instead of weeks.

In a two part post, we will explain how it got this way.