This very interesting and humorous video has been making its rounds on the Internet (if you aren’t able to watch it right now — and I do highly recommend watching it — I’ll summarize the contents below):
So the gist of the video is this: most of the brands you recognize for glasses — and most that you don’t recognize — come from the same corporation, Luxottica. From your high-end Prada frames to the inexpensive ones in mall opticals. This means that they are often the exact same quality — coming from the exact same factory — for wildly different prices. And no matter where you go, chances are the brands you see in optical shops are Luxottica brands.
We definitely have some things to say about this! First: the video is telling the truth. Luxottica does own a large percentage of the eyeglasses brands out there, and they do sometimes charge 4x the amount of money from one identical frame to another, depending on the brand in question. Even independent optical stores — those not affiliated with the familiar mall chain stores and therefore technically not controlled by Luxottica — are often still compelled to play by their rules, but not what you might think. It’s because they also have to pay too much for those brands (more than the cost to make them should dictate). Both you, the consumer, and we, the independent sellers, are victims of this pricing.
But one thing the video does not talk about is what to do about this problem.
Last year, Cascadia Eye stopped playing by those rules entirely. Inspired by other independent stores like Eyes on Fremont in Seattle, our optical shops have been transitioning nearly all our brands to ones that are designed and created completely independent of Luxottica. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it at that time — the decision to go independent even inspired our doctors to change the name of our practice!
Most importantly, Cascadia Eye is not controlled by Luxottica.
And even more changes are in the works. Our CEO and administrator, Sheri, wanted to address the valid points raised by the above video, and show what we are doing about them, now and in the future.
- Currently, Cascadia Eye only carries a few Luxottica brands, including Ray Ban and Oakley. We do this at the request of our patients, especially for the brands like Oakley, but we continue to phase out as many Luxottica brands as possible, and are willing to drop them entirely unless the demand remains strong.
- We are NOT on the insurance panel owned by Luxottica. We don’t contract with that company, although we do offer 20% off our optical products to patients who are stuck with that particular vision plan.
- Our CEO is actively in the process of sourcing our own house brand, Cascadia, directly — instead of through the more pricey middle-men. This allows us to get much better prices for our patients without sacrificing quality, and also bypass Luxottica’s control on prices.
- In addition, our opticians make a conscious effort to find other distributors/manufacturers that are part of the 20% that are NOT Luxottica…and especially those that have not fallen prey to overpricing to match Luxottica’s business model (a very real concern for us).
A further note on point #4: we’ve seen blog articles that say some independent sellers — optical shops like ours, not affiliated with chain stores — will get frames for $15 and then sell them for $150. Because Luxottica’s model does this, apparently even independent opticals will do the same. If this is indeed true, that has never been our model. Our expensive frames come to us already expensive–sometimes needlessly so. This is why we are actively seeking new sources for our frames, ones that cut out the middle-men so we can offer YOU frames you can afford.
Expect more about this in the coming months, including changes to our online store. We’re excited for this transition! For more information about eyeglasses, you can learn all about eyewear here.
One final note:
The truth about Luxottica has also been driving many people to use online sources for eyewear. Leading online glasses retailers are happy to use that point to encourage people to shop for their glasses online, with sometimes misleading claims.
However, as eyecare professionals, we urge you to proceed with caution on this — especially if you have a prescription of anything other than simple single-vision. You can read our two-part blog about the pros and cons of online eyewear shopping here and here.
Contact Cascadia Eye
If you would like to learn more, or if you would like to schedule an appointment at Cascadia Eye, please contact us today. We are happy to answer any questions you might have!
In addition, join us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to ask your questions about eyes, exams, and our practice. We’d love to hear from you — and there might be a blog to address your questions in the future.
Alex Brandt is Cascadia Eye’s official blogger.