Hello again, I hope you are all keeping well. I just wanted to give you another update on us here.
ANOTHER BUSY FEW MONTHS
Since I last wrote to you, we have been none stop, both in the shop and in our home lives. On the shop front we have, to my surprise, remained very busy throughout the summer, with most weeks fully booked. On a personal level, we’ve had holidays cancelled, new holidays booked and a wedding.
Firstly, Dan has finally done it! It was a little touch and go for a while but, with a downsized guest list and alterations to the plans, they did manage to finally get married in September. One dilemma he did have was which glasses he would wear. He had just got himself a lime green Theo frame, although his fiancée had said “If I turn up to the church and you’re wearing those then I’m going home!”
So, at the eleventh hour, Dan had a slightly tamer pair of Theo made up, still a bold frame, but in a tortoise shell instead of bright green. Fast forward to the photos and imagine my surprise when I saw he had yet again been told not to wear his new glasses and instead reverted to his Rapp pair that he got at the start of the year (which are still a fantastic frame, but a little more subtle). Some people have no sense of adventure.
Dan really does have a fantastic wardrobe of glasses now, and I was pleased to see that he did get to wear all three of his latest pairs while on his honeymoon in London.
Last year I spent 2 weeks mountain biking in the French Alps among some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. We loved it so much that as a family we booked to do it all over again in the first few weeks of August. Unfortunately, due to Covid we had to cancel our plans and trade the mountain landscape for the countryside of Suffolk.
We spent our stay in a gypsy caravan with our daughters in tents next to us. We had some great weather while we were there and the time away always reminds me to cherish the time with my family and how important that time is, especially when work can seem take over life at points.
WE CAN’T TRAVEL THE WORLD, BUT WE CAN STILL BRING THE WORLD TO YOU
Since the middle of January, unfortunately we have been unable to travel to any of the international trade shows. As you will know from our previous newsletters, this is where we usually find the highest quality products from the worlds market and bring them to Barnsley. This year we have had to innovate and do things a little differently. If we can’t go to the world, we will bring the world to us.
Just over a year ago while doing some research for another project I stumbled across a small company called Lowercase NYC. Started in 2016 and born out of a passion for eyewear, Lowercase NYC are dedicated to bringing local manufacture back to the United States using the highest quality materials available. At the time they were not in a position to be able to send their products to the UK.
Then, out of the blue at the start of the year, I received a message. Lowercase NYC would be coming to the UK. I had been following them since first discovering them and was very excited at the prospect of having their frames in the practice. And then lockdown happened.
Six months later our first parcel from Lowercase NYC arrived. All fantastic sunglass frames with stunning style, but with a different feel to our other frames in store. Shortly afterwards we received another parcel of unique optical frames, all with their own unique tell-tale styling.
All of Lowercase NYCs frames are made from either Italian or Japanese acetate, which they have imported into their Brooklyn workshop. They also have their side reinforcements, hinges and screws made in Germany and sent over to them. Once all the raw materials are in their factory, their small team embark upon the 30 steps, 2-week process to create each frame. At the end of this process they feel proud to stamp “MADE IN NYC” on each and every frame.
From first discovering Lowercase NYC it was evident that they share the same passion for eyewear excellence as we all do in the shop. Their desire to only use the highest-grade parts, their small but dedicated team, their excellent design skills and their decision to not launch the collection in the UK until they were sure all the pieces were in place to offer a fantastic product. Each of these characteristics made me sure these were the sort of people I wanted to be dealing with, and the sort of collection our customers deserve.
Although the Lowercase NYC hasn’t been in our practice for too long yet, the customer reaction to the collection has been fantastic. Customers have commented on the fantastic styling, colours, and how the collection fills a gap within our current frame range without overlapping onto our other frames. We’re looking forward to trying these frames on many more faces in the future.
WE CAN’T GET IT RIGHT EVERYTIME
In the last newsletter we wrote about the Hoya Mirror. This was a mirror that you stood in front wearing your new pair of spectacles and the mirror took a photo of you. From this photo it worked out all the measurements for your lenses. The mirror was fantastic. It provided fast and accurate measurements on an easy to use system.
One morning we came to use the mirror and it didn’t work. We rang Hoya who advised us to do the usual “turn it off and turn it back on” trick but with no joy. After a while we found out that the manufacturer of the mirror had issued an automatic update which had disabled all of the mirrors in the country.
In the mean time we had sourced a temporary replacement from our other lens supplier Seiko. This was a different system already widely used that was made by a different manufacturer, but essentially did the same task. We used the new system without a hitch for around a month when Seiko made us aware the next generation of measuring devices were in the final stages of development. Immediately we ordered one, as there were no signs of progress with the Hoya mirrors issues.
Come the start of October we received a phone call; the new device was en-route from France. This was exciting news, the product was that new ours was in the first shipment to leave the factory, we hadn’t even managed to see a photo of it yet!
The following Thursday it arrived along with a technician to install it and we got our first look at the device.
Our first impression was “WOW”. This really is an impressive piece of equipment. We do understand that for you this isn’t as exciting as trying on a new range of frames, but it really enables us to do our side of things with your lenses to a world beating standard. We also feel that we need to be constantly looking at every stage of the glasses process to ensure that we deliver to as high a standard as possible, because that’s what our customers deserve.
AS SAFE AS WE CAN BE
We would just like to briefly mention the current Covid situation as we move into a second national lockdown. During the first national lockdown in March we closed our doors for 10 weeks due to us not being able to source all the necessary PPE. As soon as we had the PPE we could re-open as we are classed as an essential business.
This time around, once again we do not have to close our doors currently, and we do not think we will need to at all over the winter months. We have built up a small surplus of PPE over the past few months in the event that there is a shortage again so we can remain open.
That being said, we are still operating on a needs basis. If you are having any vision problems, other symptoms such as headaches, have broken your glasses or are needing/wanting new glasses or sunglasses we are more than happy to see you. If you are completely happy with your vision and your glasses we are asking that you wait to see us either until that changes or the Covid situation improves.
Of course, we are still wearing full PPE, cleaning down after each customer has been in the practice, sanitising any frames that have been tried on and also spreading customers apart in the shop. Due to this, we are having to spread appointments out a little more meaning we cannot see as many of you in a day as we used to. To help with this fact, we have started to offer eye tests on a Tuesday morning as well.
As we only have a small shop, we are limiting the number of people in the shop at any one time to maintain social distancing. Due to this, wherever possible we ask that you make an appointment to come in and see us, even if it’s just for a small adjustment or repair, as we’d hate for the shop to be at capacity when you arrive and have to turn you away.
We would like to say a huge thank you for your online reviews and your recommendations and support. It is especially your Google and Facebook reviews that make a big difference to our business meaning we can keep doing what we love.
I’ll finish on a great line that Jane, one of our customers, said to me the other week when she rang. “Philip, I’ve been thinking. I’ve decided I have enough room in my life for another pair of spectacles.”
Please feel free to share this copy of Life in Spectacles with your friends and family.
Take care and see you all soon,