of the Yankees
Nearly 150 children recently got to meet a baseball great at an event coordinated by St. Mary’s Children and Family Services, a non-profit, non-sectarian agency caring for abused, neglected and troubled children and families in crisis from the New York City/Long Island area. New York Yankee All Star and current third-base coach Willie Randolph, who played second base for the Bronx Bombers for 13 years beginning in 1975, joined the residents of St. Mary’s during a presentation sponsored by Davis Vision in the Casey Conference Center on the Syosset, N.Y. Campus of St. Mary’s. The seven-time Major League All Star with two World Series championships as a player and four championships as a coach, fielded questions from the kids as part of the facility’s Mentoring Month. —Jackie Micucci


How can we not show you an optical shop that uses a live lynx as part of its draw to a trunk show? Eyetopian Optical in Bonita Springs, Fla. featured the feline in order to appropriately highlight the wild attitude of the Kieselstein-Cord collection from Optical Shop of Aspen. The show also centered on the high-end wares of Oliver Peoples. A portion of the event sales was then donated to the Menagerie Foundation. Our pictured “cat people” include OSA’s Lou Feuggler, Oliver Peoples’ Jared Buchansky, Eyetopian owners Craig and Kelly Chasnov and a Siberian Lynx named Misha. —James J. Spina

Cosmo Covers It— The Cosmopolitan lifestyle is lavish, to say the least. With this in mind, Rem has decided to initiate some healthy indulgence and indulge its customers with a vivacious new promotion running through July 31. Via a variety of tempting purchase levels customers receive boutique-style jewelry including earrings, bracelets and necklaces. These pieces are fashioned with semi-precious stones such as topaz/ champagne and genuine freshwater pearls. To further whet the Cosmo appetite, Rem will also be giving away free subscriptions to Cosmopolitan magazine and sexy POP merchandise to dispensers. For complete details on the levels of temptation buzz Rem at (888)-754 9631.

Choose Your Pastime — Kenmark’s Lancer International division is geared to fix you up with some fun summer diversions. Customers can earn free gifts with every purchase of frames from Hush Puppies, Timex Optical Eyewear, Thalia Eyewear and Celine Dion Eyes. The gifts come via a minimum purchase requirement. Items include a Hush Puppies beach towel, golf balls, Timex watches, TMX watches and a Timex CD stereo clock radio. If that’s not music to your ears how about the newest CD from Celine Dion, “One Heart,” or a CD set from Thalia. Take a break and call (800) 627-2898 for details.  —J.J.S.

When X meets Y. Gen X skateboard legend 1. Tony Hawk in X-Games style Big Air. Gen Y idols 2. Jennifer Love Hewitt and 3. Melissa Joan Hart in eyewear from DKNY. Hewitt wears style 6440, color 249 and Hart wears style 6819, color 603. All the frames are from Marchon… That’s life. Pop diva 4. Madonna was spotted in YSL style 2014S (from Sàfilo) walking into the promotional concert for her new CD “American Life” at Tower Records in New York… Shooting range. “Just Shoot Me” stars 5. Wendie Malick in the Serengeti Da Vinci, 6. Enrico Colantoni in the Bollé Zyrium and 7. George Segal in medium aviators from Serengeti… The mature market. Some senior celebrities in styles from Marchon: Screen legend and Academy Award winner 8. Clint Eastwood wears Calvin Klein Eyewear style 380; “Everybody Loves Raymond” parental units 9. Peter Boyle in Flexon 423 and 10. Doris Roberts in Fendi FS271; and “60 Minutes” news correspondent 11. Ed Bradley in Flexon 4050… Funeral procession. The cast members of HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Six Feet Under” sport eyewear from Marchon. 12. Rachel Griffiths in Fendi style FS258, 13. Michael C. Hall in Calvin Klein style 540, 14. Lauren Ambrose in Coach style Gotham, 15. Freddy Rodriguez in Flexon style 422 and 16. Mathew St. Patrick in Donna Karan style 9905S… Grand finale. Secret agent girl 17. Jennifer Garner was spied in Yves Saint Laurent 2066/s in 6LBNN from Sàfilo, which she wore on the season finale of “Alias” last month… How sweet it is. Sàfilo shades are featured in the hip-hop drama series, “Platinum,” which airs on UPN9. 18. Vishiss, who plays Versis, wears a pair of Diesel Freeze Frame/s. “Platinum” tells the tale of two brothers who came up from the streets to build a multi-million dollar record company called Sweetback Entertainment… All access. “Access Hollywood” co-host 19. Nancy O’Dell wears Kenneth Cole sunglasses from ClearVision… Mileage. 20. Mekhi Phifer from the movie “8 Mile” and hit TV drama “ER” in the Serengeti Argosy – 555 Lens… Pop idols. 21. Cyndi Lauper, who has been touring with Cher, wears Donna Karan style 9822S. Singer, dancer and “American Idol” judge 22. Paula Abdul sports Fendi style FS271. Both collections are from Marchon. —JM

Op Iraq
In an effort to show support for U.S. troops during the War in Iraq, ClearVision Optical donated Op brand sunglasses to a program made possible by Crown Optical of Alton, Ill. Operation Optical was created to collect items requested by U.S. troops in Iraq. Crown reached out to both their patient population and vendors for donations of personal provisions requested by U.S. troops overseas, including sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, tissues and disposable cameras.

Collected items are then presented at patriot packaging parties where volunteers assemble personal packages for the soldiers while local DJs provide entertainment. Packages will be sent to the USO for distribution. Even after the packaging party, Crown Optical will continue to take donations until U.S. troop activities in Iraq are over. Crown’s marketing coordinator, Marijean Jaggers says, “The response to this cause has been overwhelming. The local radio and news stations have been very supportive and even held a rally where in just one day, we collected a full storage shed of supplies. We have received a lot of positive publicity and coverage on the program. It’s amazing how many people and vendors want to do something for our troops.” —JJS

O-O-Opinions Wanted
Want to have your say? Share your opinions on the optical industry and have a chance to win great prizes? Well, then Jobson VisionTrends online wants you for its new Internet panel of eyecare professionals. Using this select group of ECPs, Jobson Optical Research conducts syndicated and custom market research studies providing critical business-to-business insight. Studies are done on a variety of topics including managed vision care, new product development and channel, retailer and brand performance. VisionTrends online participants have the opportunity to influence major industry players by rating manufacturer/supplier performance on key measures, such as quality, customer service, pricing, etc.

For sharing their opinions, participants receive vital information about the optical industry and enter random drawings to win a host of cash and prizes. Because only a few hundred completed surveys are required for each research study, chances to win are good.

To qualify, you must be an eyecare professional and work at an optical retailer location. Be part of the team by logging on to
www.jobsonresearch.com/vtrends/join.htm or call toll free (888) 768-0149.

Go West — Vision West has unveiled the newly improved www.vweye.com web site. The site allows members to access monthly statements online, update account information, obtain details on new membership programs, read the OptiCenter newsletter online and access HIPAA compliance information. There are also detailed yet simple signup instructions for potential new members.

Go-To-Market Day — Location. Location. Location… Product. Product. Product. Perhaps the true mantra to successful retailing these days is… Marketing. Marketing. Marketing. If you feel you might need an extra burst of sell-energy (to supplement the stellar stuff you read in 20/20’s Upfront) might we suggest a visit to www.optical-retail-small-business-marketing-tips.com. The site is the culmination of 34 years in optical retailing and deep research specific to marketing by optician Stan Donnell. His exploration of “strategies and tactics is designed to maximize results and minimize investment.” Check it out for the information and links including complimentary references to 20/20’s own web site.  —JJS

Schroeder’s Web
The Schroeder Optical web site (top), Missy Barnes and Ashley Veloso, OD (middle) and Tom Schroeder (bottom).
Not everyone enjoys being a guinea pig but, for the Roanoke, Va. practice of Ashley Veloso, OD, doing so changed their relationship with their wholesale lab. For the better, of course.

Two years ago, Roanoke-based Schroeder Optical contacted the practice about a new electronic ordering program it was offering called Trace and Transfer.
“They wanted us to work with the system on a trial basis—be their guinea pigs, so to speak,” recalls practice optician Missy Barnes, who sends all of her non-managed care eyewear work to Schroeder. “I guess they wanted to work with someone close by so they could be here if there were any problems.”

Soon after the “beta test” started, however, both parties knew success when they saw it. Things worked so well, Barnes says, “we definitely wanted to keep using the program when the trial was over.”

Trace and Transfer uses a National Optronics 4T frame tracer—as well as a computer and Optifacts-designed software program provided by Schroeder—to allow lab customers to file orders via email. Using the tracer, Barnes traces patients’ frames, then submits their orders at the push of a button, using the customized order form designed by Optifacts.

“It takes no time at all,” notes Barnes, who files close to 100 percent of her orders through Schroeder electronically. She says the system has reduced the practice’s order turnaround time by more than half (from three to four days to one to two) and has improved efficiency overall because the software “reduces human error” in the ordering process. “You can’t forget important information,” she explains.

Electronic ordering is hardly new, but it is unique for a lab Schroeder’s size, especially since several larger labs have struggled with the service. Founded in 1972 by the father and son team of Bill and Bob Schroeder, the lab— which produces only 150 jobs per day—has been run by Tom Schroeder, Bill’s grandson and Bob’s son, since the mid-1990s. It has had its own web site—http://www.schroederotpical.com —since 1999.

According to Tom Schroeder, nearly 20 percent of the lab’s orders are filed electronically, a number he expects will increase this year now that the lab has signed on with optical Internet portal Vision Web. In addition to Trace and Transfer, the site includes an online continuing education course on polarized lenses for opticians offered through lens manufacturer Specialty Lens Corp. 
—Brian P. Dunleavy

Invading MIDO 2003
Modeling Parasite styles (top). Parasite designer and company founder, Hugo Martin (right) and marketing manager Yann Meurot.
Parasites made their first attack at SILMO in 2002 and continued their invasion at MIDO 2003. That’s Parasite Eyewear, a French– based eyewear company headed by designer Hugo Martin. The sunwear collection, also called Parasite, is a hingeless frame system which, instead of traditional temples, uses two forked prongs that gently affix to the head just above and below the temple.

The designer, who comes from an optical family—his parents own an optical shop in Southwest France—started his career as a product design, creating such diverse items as toys and electronic books. Then a champion mountain climber friend needed glasses that would stay in place at all times. “I thought about how to affix a frame to the head so it would stay on, designed a prototype and thought about it for two more years before launching the collection six months ago in Paris,” Martin says.

“The concept behind the design is a living product that moves subtly with the movements of the wearer. Like a parasite, the frame gets its energy from another being and evolves with its environment,” the designer explains. Made of tempered hypoallergenic stainless steel, the frame is highly flexible. After one adjustment by an optician at the time of purchase, the frame retains its memory permanently. Available in various shapes and colors, the sunglasses take their name from Parasite species: Loa, Mantys and Mue. Lenses are six-base Rxable polycarbonate.

The development of the product has gone hand-in-hand with a marketing program. “We’ve centered the product around the fusion of design, packaging and communication,” notes Martin. “Parasite, the same word in French, is also a verb in French. Our tagline is ‘Parasite moi’—infect me. Because just like a parasite gets life from others, the power of our product depends on others seeing it and wearing it.”

Merchandising materials consist of suction cups so the sunglasses can hang on walls like true parasites, presentation mats, double-sided posters, totem poles and stickers. The eyeglass case is a thin, pliable membrane, like a second skin, that wraps around the eyewear.

“It’s important to us that there’s a symbiosis between everything associated with this brand,” the designer says. “We see Parasite as a  mutant that’s created its own niche somewhere between high-quality fashion eyewear and something organic. Its client base runs the gamut from the truly trendy to those seeking to create their own personal style.” To be infected, visit
 —Gloria Nicola

Defined Design
What goes more swimmingly with bathing suits than sunglasses? That’s why Sunglass Hut International and Gen Art honored the hottest new swimwear designers during L.A. Fashion Week with a runway show, “Los Angeles Defined.” Four emerging designers paired their swimwear styles with the latest sunglasses from Sunglass Hut for a crowd of 1,200.

A cash grant of $5,000 went to the best emerging swimwear designer—Susan Elizabeth of New York—who plans to use the money to work on her Spring 2004 collection of futuristic designs. Her designs adorned with metal chains and ostrich feathers were recently featured in Elle magazine.

The other designers were Lisa Le Tarte, whose model and pro-windsurfing background inspired chic island prints and embellishments such as bamboo and shells with sporty sleek shapes; Ambika, a former photo stylist whose asymmetrical sexy-cut crocheted pieces were adorned with jewels; and Heidi Fish, who created pastel and bright 1940s inspired swimsuits.

Sunglass Hut stores showcased a varied collection of sunwear on the runway including styles from Ray-Ban, Bulgari, Moschino, Arnette, Killer Loop, Chanel, Prada, Christian Dior, Gucci, Oakley, Bollé and Nike.

So what’s hot in sunwear this summer? “Gradient lenses in amber, rose
or purple are hot for designer, classic and sport frames,” says Pat Sharp, director of Sunglass Hut/Luxottica marketing. “Warm tones also look fresh for Summer 2003 with amber lenses in gold metal frames and a resurgence of tortoise frames. Dramatic oversize frames continue with aviators, goggles and rimless styles performing strongly.” —JM

ELOA Spins (Eye)Web for ECPs — Essilor Laboratories of America (ELOA) has enter-ed into an agreement with EyeWeb to distribute the EyeWeb virtual try-on system to its customers. ELOA will provide the hardware for select eyecare professionals to use for free; the ECP only pays EyeWeb’s monthly software license fee and annual maintenance fee.

“ECPs can obtain EyeWeb from ELOA through a number of marketing programs,” notes Bob Colucci, ELOA's senior VP, sales and marketing. The EyeWeb system provides digital fitting measurements and allows patients to see themselves while trying on different frames and lenses in the dispensary.

SOLA Appoints iPoint — SOLA and Optical Innovations have formed a distribution partnership to place the Optical Innovations iPoint Kiosk into independent eyecare practices. The iPoint Kiosk is a computer-based comparison tool designed to allow clients to view frames, ophthalmic lenses, and color contact lenses on screen.
As part of this new relationship, SOLA is launching a program to defer a substantial portion of the iPoint Kiosk’s purchase price when bought through an eligible independent wholesale laboratory. The iPoint Kiosk digital camera module and software are available for $2,895; dispensaries that need to add a computer to the practice can get a space-saver version of the product for $3,895.

Here Comes the SunRx — Vision-Ease Lens recently launched the SunRx Rewards and Certified SunRx Partner programs. Both programs are designed to support business partners using the company’s SunRx polarized polycarbonate lens product. SunRx Rewards compensates labs and ECPs through an earned-points system; the Certified SunRx Partner Program is geared toward helping ECPs sell the lenses. ECPs earn 10 points for each pair of SunRx lenses sold. Merchandise incentives include a Trek mountain bike, Palmer snowboard and other sports, camping and gardening equipment. Home electronics equipment and personal accessories are also being offered. The Certified SunRx Partner kit, which aims to promote polarized-lens and second-pair sales, includes training materials for practices and a CD-ROM with printable marketing materials that can be customized per practice.
Vision-Ease supports these programs with an initial stocking order promotion and sales-force support throughout the campaign.

Christmas In June — Here’s an optimum (or more accurately Optima) chance to get a jump on your Christmas shopping. Now through December 31, for every pair of HyperIndex 1.66 progressive or HyperIndex 1.66 D28 lenses purchased through participating labs, retailers can receive a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate from Optima. And if you know Amazon you’re aware the certificates are good not just for books and music CDs or DVDs, but health and beauty aids, toys, games, magazine subscriptions, housewares, house and garden items, and more. There are no rebate forms to send in or coupons to accumulate. Labs sign up for the program and simply send the retailer the gift certificates with a completed Rx. Retailers then log on to the Amazon web site, choose from an almost limitless selection of items, check out and enter their claim code number. Certificates can also be accumulated for larger purchases. There is also a monthly drawing for additional $100 gift certificates.

“Retailers will love the simplicity and convenience of our Amazon.com promotion. They can use the certificates to hand out as gifts or shop online for thousands of items. And there is no limit to what they can earn,” says Nicholas Niejelow, president and CEO of Optima Inc. Call Optima at (800) 621-1216 for further details.