Those of us who wear glasses know that they aren’t cheap. Heck, they can be downright expensive. $500 for a pair of eyeglasses isn’t unheard of once they’ve thrown on all the different costs. Now, most people know that you can get a cheap, flimsy pair of eyeglasses on the cheap. But we’re not looking to be cheap. Cheap usually means paying a low price for low quality. I know that’s not what I’m looking for in a pair of glasses.
I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 14, and these are the ones I was still using in 2010. I wear contacts most of the time, but over the years my prescription had changed by quite a lot, and I knew it was time to get a new pair of glasses. I didn’t want wire ones similar to what I’d previously had. I really liked the look of many of the classic designer glasses I saw people wearing on the street. So, over the past year, I’ve kept my eyes out for some great glasses deals. I noted that Costco had some good deals on its selected number of frames, and it was also ranked by Consumer Reports as the #1 place to buy eyeglasses.
However, by keeping on the lookout, I eventually found a place even better than Costco. See, Costco just obtains pricing concessions based on the size of its retail arm and it passes these along to consumers. However, last year in GQ there was an article on a new designer glasses company called Warby Parker. When I read the article I was fascinated, both from an entrepreneurial and a consumer aspect. The company took a old, stodgy model and turned it on its head.
The eyeglasses industry, as it currently stood, was controlled by a few companies. These companies have the glasses manufactured, purchase licensing from designer labels, and ship them to the optometrists. Chanel or Coach didn’t design those glasses you see people wearing. Chanel and Coach specialize in other designs, but they aren’t glasses designers. They simply sell he rights to using their name. In a normal pair of glasses, this licensing alone is likely costing you $100. Like with many designer glasses, you’re paying for that name.
However, Warby Parker has essentially managed to turn this model on its head. By cutting out major costs such as licensing and the middle men (optometrists), Warby Parker has managed to offer great looking designer eyeglasses for just $100. There are no upsells for anti-reflective or anti-scratch coatings. These are included in the price. If you’ve ever purchased your glasses from your eye doctor, you’ll know they often charge about $50 for these coatings alone.
This past December I ordered five pairs of Warby Parker glasses for a home try-on. They understand that people typically want to try on glasses before making a decision, so they’ll ship you five pairs to try on. You get to try them on, ask your friends for their opinions, and look at yourself in the mirror for hours while you decide which glasses you like. There’s not the pressure of a eyeglasses salesman breathing down your neck.
During this try-on I found the pair I wanted, but I didn’t get around to buying them until the beginning of March because I needed to wait until my HSA was ready for the purchase. When they arrived in the mail I was giddy. I had waited so long for my new glasses. I opened the box and put them on my face and the excitement didn’t die. Warby Park didn’t let me down. I’ve had the glasses for a week now and I’ve worn them most of the days. I didn’t used to wear my old glasses in public much because I would opt to wear my contacts, but I like these ones so much that I’m wearing my glasses a lot more often.
If you’re looking for a new pair of glasses, I highly recommend Warby Parker. They delivered a great product at a fraction of the typical price. Plus, I always think it’s cool to give patronage to start-ups. And even better, you can feel good buying from Warby Parker too. For every pair of glasses they sell, Warby Parker gives a pair of glasses to someone in need around the world. So far Warby Parker has given away 85,000 pairs of glasses around the world. That’s really cool if you ask me.