Dear Ms. Specs in the City,I have just been appointed Frame Buyer in my office. This is new to me, and I want to put my best foot forward. Any tips?
Nervous in Nevada
Dear Nervous in Nevada,
Thank you again for this excellent question! In last month’s column, we talked about how fashion disseminates in our society (the Fashion Pyramid). Now let’s tackle vendor selection, going all in, display/merchandising tips and Rx considerations.
Choosing vendors: You must research your market and know the wants and needs of your demographic. Will you attract a clientele that demands recognized brands? Or will they delight in the idea of independent and more exclusive frame collections not seen everywhere around town? You will probably have a mix of both. Don’t forget that your frame selection and visual merchandising reflect the store’s image. Who do you wish to attract to your store? Are you catering to a high-end clientele only or appealing to a broader customer base?
My resume includes managing a high-end boutique in a high-end shopping mall. Our selections were a mix of high-end collections and frames available exclusively in our stores. Our clientele valued the fact that they would not likely see their fashion frame on someone else at a social event. Having a mix of recognized brands and high-fashion brands and unique independent collections will probably fill most of your inventory needs. The frame reps are a marvelous resource and share their knowledge willingly. Once we choose vendors, we must go all in! In other words, a deep buy-in with each vendor. Better to have fewer vendors than to have too many. Featuring “onesie-twosies” of a brand will not do justice to the collection or your stores’ image. An incoherently scattered frame selection will look like mish-mosh, cheapening the entire presentation. Once you have your star collections, think about how you will display/merchandise the frames. Use vignettes to tell the brand story of your high-end and on-trend brand collections. I recommend incorporating the sunnies with the ophthalmics as a great way to reinforce our message about sun protection and good vision while having a conversation with the client about their varied vision needs.
Rx considerations: As much as Ms. Specs delights in the eyewear fashion scene, I must point out that it is about creating an excellent visual experience for our patients/clients, which means that we must have frame choices that are suitable for all types of prescriptions.
Just as your clientele is diverse, so should the frame styles that you carry. For example, have options for men with large heads. Another specialty frame selection is for women with petite faces. Although their faces are small and can fit a child’s frame, it is in poor form to put a grown woman in a children’s frame. Even if you succeed at removing Minnie Mouse from the temple, the bridge will not fit properly as most children’s frames have a unique bridge designed for a child, not an adult.
Our clientele comes in all shapes and sizes, skin tones and unique visual needs. As larger eye sizes continue trending, it presents challenges for those large faces or strong prescriptions. Tip: Styles with small eye sizes, aka “A” measurements, provide the best optics for high prescriptions, and they can still fit large faces comfortably if they have extended endpieces and specialty bridge solutions that increase the distance between the eyewires while maintaining a normal bridge fit.
When showing clientele your fabulous ophthalmic offerings, be humble, be kind and help them have the best experience—and everyone wins. The goal is to make them our cheerleaders when asked, “Where did you get those fabulous glasses?”
See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM
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