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In 1993 Bret Hunter opened Sports Optical just north of downtown Denver, looking not only to sell eyewear to sportsmen and women, but also to offer them something better than what was then available.

Bret Hunter’s main goal in designing the shop was to “stray away from the white-wall, sterilized, hospital feel of a stereotypical optical store,” says optician and social media manager Emily Kincaid-Smith.

The practice’s demographic skews to middle-aged shooting enthusiasts and military servicemen and women, as well as blue-collar workers, says Kincaid-Smith, but has put patients of all ages in its glasses.

Sports Optical’s interior reflects owner Bret Hunter’s many passions, including his love of the steampunk style.

Sports Optical’s YouTube channel is particularly impressive, featuring regular videos showing new arrivals and new uses for their lenses—and even people shooting at their safety glasses.

Owner Bret Hunter has won three SCCA national championships in rallycross races sports cars. He has also raced snow bikes in the X-Games and fixes vehicles.

In the 1990s Hunter developed his exclusive Direct Lens Technology, which allows Sports Optical to offer wraparound sports glasses with prescriptions that are effective all the way out to the peripheral vision.

A gear-studded metal skull keeps an eye on proceedings in the quirkily decorated showroom at Sports Optical.

In addition to sports and safety eyewear, Sports Optical offers a range of frames from innovative and creative brands under the “Funky Frames” banner.

The steampunk vibe extends into the exam lane. The presence of in-house optometrist Dr. Andrew Benson makes the practice a one-stop-shop.



Ski goggles and all manner of sports eyewear are on offer at Sports Optical.

Sports Optical owner Bret Hunter.

The colorful murals that enliven the business’ exterior walls were done by artist Lindsey Kuhn. “He has a wonderful eye for bright colors and defined lines,” says Kincaid-Smith.

13 Images That Show Why Sports Optical in Denver Was Named One of America’s Finest Optical Retailers

13 Images That Show Why Sports Optical in Denver Was Named One of America’s Finest Optical Retailers

In 1993 Bret Hunter opened Sports Optical just north of downtown Denver, looking not only to sell eyewear to sportsmen and women, but also to offer them something better than what was then available.

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