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8 Eyecare Businesses With a Solid Gift Certificate Game

These versatile retail tools can boost business, community engagement and social media traffic—and start conversations.

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WHAT’S NOT TO love about gift certificates? Not only are they a super-efficient way to boost holiday spending, but they also lend themselves perfectly to social media marketing and promotional tie-ins for special days like Valentine’s, Mom’s and Dad’s days, or graduation. You can promote them online and in bulletins among gift selections or put up a stand or sign near your cash register drawing attention to them. (“Great for birthdays, too!” “For that hard-to-buy-for person in your life!”) And that’s not to mention their usefulness when it comes to community involvement, as gifts for silent auctions or charitable donations. You can even go paperless by making them available as an online store purchase, emailable to recipients. How’s your gift certificate game? To get you focused on it, here’s how a handful of your peers got creative with an old retail favorite.

EYES gift certificate

EYES – Dr. Abby Jakob
Kingsville, ON, Canada

Bearing a note to the recipient reading, “You, sparkle, you shine, you’re one of a kind!” the gift certificates at EYES are one of countless thoughtful touches that set Dr. Abby Jakob’s practice apart. Jakob does not believe in putting expiration dates on the cards since they’ve been paid for. She promotes them on Instagram and in the office. Around Christmas and other seasonal events, EYES offers a deal on gift certificates: customers who spend $50 will get $60, those spending $100 get $120.

Urban Optiks gift certificate

Urban Optiks
San Diego, Ca

Urban Optiks were early adopters of online sales, having made contact lenses, frames, dry eye goods and accessories available for purchase on their website for years. And they make it easy for gift buyers too; electronic gift certificates can be purchased directly on the practice’s website. The buyer can determine the denomination value themselves, and have the certificate sent by email to the intended recipient. Doubtless the cards are one reason for the practice’s strong Yelp reviews. Urban Optiks has also used $250 electronic gift certificates as incentives, with anyone who shared their “Giveaway Time” Facebook post with a positive comment going into a draw to win one.

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Rockford Family Eyecare gift certificate

Rockford Family Eyecare
Rockford, MI

Rockford Family Eyecare have tried various designs for their certificates over the years, but recently settled on one featuring an image of co-owner Dr. Theodore Sees’ niece. “People like the kiddo images better,” he says. The practice does not include any expiration date on its gift certificates, and primarily pushes them on Facebook. According to Sees, who owns the practice with his wife Dr. Carrie Sees, “One of the questions that we always ask patients when they schedule or call is, ‘Do you have Flex spending or HSA?’ We then try to target these people with emails and texts about gift cards and using HSA dollars before they expire.”

Pend Oreille Vision Care gift certificate

Pend Oreille Vision Care
Sandpoint, ID

Pend Oreille Vision Care finds that gift certificates are a useful tool for its community outreach activities; it donates them to fundraisers, and/or upon payment for birthday gifts, etc. Charities and non-profits receive them free or discounted, while individuals pay full price. Restrictions are listed on the certificate in fine print. “We’ve always required an expiration date, but we’re generous with it — certificates usually expire one year from date of issue,” says business manager Jen Heller. “And we’re glad we do — in our county of procrastinators, we find that almost all of the gift certificates get redeemed in their last month of validity.”

Spectacle Shoppe gift certificate

Spectacle Shoppe
Saint Paul, MN

When people come into the optical at Spectacle Shoppe to buy sunglasses as a gift for a friend or relative, they may have the best intentions, but optician Charlie Blankenship can’t help but “cringe.” Often the buyer gets it wrong, resulting in a return or a disappointed customer. But let’s face it, gift certificates often don’t have the impact of a true gift. So Blankenship came up with a novel solution: certificates that look like an actual pair of sunglasses, enclosed in a designer case complete with cleaner, cloth and shopping bag.

Oxford Eyes gift certificate

Oxford Eyes
Orlando, FL

Oxford Eyes’ typically elegant certificates are good for a year and promoted on its social media accounts, including its private Facebook group, Oxford Eyes Insiders. Staff will also mention them to customers. “We also had gift certificates in our window as part of our holiday display,” says owner Verbelee Nielsen-Swanson. For Mother’s Day and Christmas Oxford Eyes offered an additional $25 gift certificate for every $100. The $25 could be added to the purchased certificate or the buyer could use the $25 themselves. The gift certificates are personalized for each purchaser, so the value is set to any amount they choose. “We package the gift certificate in our Oxford Eyes bags with tissue paper so it is a beautiful presentation without any effort for the buyer,” says Nielsen-Swanson. Oxford eyes also uses gift certificates for charity auction donations. “It’s a great way to support local charities and get new individuals in the shop. We use the same one-year expiration and packaging,” she says.

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Eclectic Eye gift certificate

Eclectic Eye
Memphis, TN

While many consumers may associate gift cards with chain restaurants and quick, last-minute gifts, according to Lindy Faulkner, director of operations at Eclectic Eye in Memphis, TN, “People are now seeing that gift cards aren’t just options offered by big box retailers. A gift card to a specialized store or small business can also communicate a more thoughtful approach in considering what the person is really passionate about.” It’s a sentiment the team at Eclectic Eye encourages, helping their gift card sales increase in both 2020 and 2021. In an interesting twist on the usual certificate sale, Faulkner cites the example of one customer who loves eyewear and will often buy herself a gift card as a way of working towards her next pair. Eclectic Eye’s certificates have a one-year validity. They are not discounted or tied into specials but are promoted on social media. “We like to offer small add-ons that customers can add to a giftcard purchase to personalize their gift. Water bottles, eyewear cases, enamel pins, etc. add a nice pop! Also, we offer to wrap it,” says Faulkner. “People appreciate stopping by to get a gift and being able to leave with it ready to hand over to the recipient right away.” She urges eyecare business managers to remind their staff to talk to customers about gift cards. “Eyewear can be such a personal expression and therefore a tough purchase to make for others, but gift cards are a perfect solution to that dilemma.”

Specs Around Town gift certificate

Specs Around Town
Bloomington, IL

Specs Around Town holds a Cyber Monday Annual gift certificate sale, and is planning a Valentine’s Day offer of a gift certificate with every purchase of an Oyobox. Certificates are promoted in social media posts on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, on the website, and by word of mouth. Staff write in a validity of one year from date of purchase, but if it is a genuine purchase will honor the card whenever it’s used. On gift certificates donated to charities or fundraisers they write an expiration date of six months from the time of the donation. Says owner Julie Kubsch, “On the Cyber Monday sale we do have in small print everywhere that they are good for the sale price (e.g., $500 on a certificate for $350) until Oct. 31 of the following year. Then they revert back to being $350.” Kubsch believes gift certificates should always be mentioned when someone stops in to buy glasses or sunglasses for someone else. “It’s truly tough to guess what a frame may look like on someone that is not in your shop! Most of the time that’s just a bad idea. Selling a gift certificate also gets the recipient in your door.”

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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