We have a story to tell you.
Some of it might seem familiar: we have blogged about our early efforts to transition to a new, independent philosophy, revolutionizing our optical shops from the inside out. We’ve blogged about the evils of the mega-corporations that control the glasses markets and how we were combating them. And we’ve talked about our decision to offer frames online, and talked about some of the problems we found in other well-known glasses e-tailers.
But now we’ve taken all these efforts to brand-new levels, spearheaded by our CEO, Sheri Saldivar.
How it started:
Sheri noticed our glasses-wearing patients were caught between three difficult options.
Option 1: independent brick-and-mortar stores like ours, where fully-trained and licensed opticians could curate frames for quality and assist patients with optimizing vision, comfort and appearance. But historically this kind of optical shop comes with a high price tag for frames, as it often seems the only option for independent eye care practitioners is to purchase from the few frame brands who sell at over-inflated mark-ups.
So, patients turn to Option 2, shopping online for frames, usually outside of the mega-corporations controlling the eyewear industry. There, ideally the prices are reasonable for the same level of quality (and sometimes they are). But, importantly, there are no opticians to assist in the necessary measurements and customizations needed for optimal vision (this is especially crucial for people wearing progressives or with tricky prescriptions).
Or Option 3: shopping at Big Box Stores, who offer discounted frames (which unfortunately still belong to the mega-corporations or are of very low quality), but also employ fewer licensed and certified opticians, relying on inadequately-trained apprentice-level opticians for most of their hours in order to cut costs.
How could Cascadia Eye provide the services of the first option — fully-trained, certified, licensed opticians with quality frames and optimal vision — while still offering prices that were truly affordable?
The answer was in going fully independent. Not just what we had done before — purchasing frames from companies we knew were independent of the big corporations that drove prices up for maximum profits. Those companies, while admirable for their efforts, still put their price-points too high for our purposes.
So instead, our CEO went straight to the source, cutting out the middle-men distributors and purchasing for the first time directly from the manufacturers. She says:
Leaning on years of experience of working with the best shapes, hinges, materials, styles, and colors for real people, Cascadia Eyewear was designed. We sought out manufacturers directly, eliminating several layers of cost. But what Cascadia Eyewear does differently is we share the savings with our patients. Our goal is to use our leverage to get better prices for all of us — instead of just adopting the artificial pricing currently controlling the eyewear frame market.
This is a win for patients, who want low prices while maintaining the expert service, style, and quality which cannot be found in the big box or on-line stores. And this is a win for Cascadia Eyewear because with every frame we distribute, it means we can use that growing leverage to keep patients ‘safely’ with their eye doctor for both their eye care and for the very best in eyewear. Additionally, Cascadia Eyewear is eyewear with a story. We are real individuals inspired by our Cascadia community to design and provide eyewear to real individuals who deserve quality, style and value. When patients choose Cascadia Eyewear they are choosing to support independence, local business and themselves with the gift of real value!
The result? Beautiful, quality frames we could be proud of, at $100 price points or less. While we do still carry a few frame lines at $200 or $300 price points, we insist on there being a reason for such high prices (e.g. fully made in the USA, or patented technology in their design) or we won’t carry them. See a gallery of some of our favorite Cascadia and 92NW frames here.
Then our optical went a step further and purchased the high-tech equipment necessary to craft our own fully-digital lenses in-house — both single-vision and progressive. Our new signature deals offer the best price-points for the best quality.
We have big plans on the horizon. Not only are we taking the design of our frames into our own hands (pictured below: the “Andrea” frame, designed by Sheri Saldivar herself), we also have an artist coming up with new, unique shapes and colors that truly reflect our Cascadian roots. Stay tuned for more exciting developments! Meanwhile, you can learn all about eyeglasses 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.