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America's Finest

America’s Finest: Providence Optical

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PROVIDENCE OPTICAL PROVIDENCE, RI

WEBSITE: providenceoptical.net | OWNER: Onega Astaltsova | OPENED : 2006 AREA: 1,074 square feet | EMPLOYEES: 3 | TOP BRANDS: Blackfin, Italia Independent, Swissflex, Undostrial, Seraphin, Lunettes Kollektion FACEBOOK: facebook.com/pages/Providence-Optical/192561366815

From its shop windows to its website — and especially in its own bespoke and custom eyewear — Providence Optical’s passions are clear: a dedication to craftsmanship and a love for the arts. “As craftsmen, we understand the materials and techniques to manufacture eyewear. This specialized knowledge is integral to knowing quality, and we ask for this same quality in the lines we carry,” says owner Onega Astaltsova. This is also a shop that cultivates community, whether through its transparent pricing policies or support of local events. Notes Astaltsova: “ As a matter of principle we try to keep our business small and personal.” — Julie Fanselow

5 cool things

1 In addition to her ABO and NCLE certifications, owner Onega Astaltsova earned a degree in footwear design from MIT. (That’s the Moscow Institute of Technology.) 

2 Optician Lee Kuczewski is the co-founder of Lee Allen Eyewear, which designs and produces limited-run glasses.

Providence Optical has an extensive collection of vintage frames, with rare pairs dating from the 1800s through the 1990s.

The business has eye-catching window displays, often inspired by great works of art, as well as an excellent website blog with lots of photos and fashion advice. 

5 Despite its high-end feel, Providence Optical is wallet-friendly. Eye exams start at $60 — with that base price posted right on the window — and the shop strives to meet the frame price-point needs of every customer. 

Our Judges Say

I like that they’re craftsmen! It’s rare these days. I’d like them to hire a storyteller to tell their story to the world. — Robert Bell

Eye exams for $60 are very surprising! — Rebecca Johnson

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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