Welcome to Whimsy

Drawing on owner Dr. Cynthia Sayers’ experience — in and outside of optometry — and sense of fun, EyeShop Optical in Lewis Center, OH is the ‘opposite of clinical.’ 

  STORY BY HEATH BURSLEM

If you should stray into EyeShop Optical Center in Lewis Center, OH, looking to go through the motions of an eye exam just to “get it done,” it shouldn’t take you too long to realize you’re not in your typical optical chain. If it isn’t the non-stop ’80s music that tips you off, or being greeted by the sight of Monsters Inc. Mike wearing an eyeglass on his one eye, then maybe bumping into Barbie in the exam room or the glasses-clad dogs in the bathroom will do the trick. And if all that fails to set you straight, it’s probably safe to say that if your appointment happens to be on Dessert Friday (or the store’s monthly Lollipop Day), the penny will drop.

EyeShop Optical Center
Lewis Center, OH

Owner: Cynthia Sayers, OD
URL: eyeshopoptical.com
Founded: 2011
Buildout Cost: $10,000
Architect and Design Firms: Real Space Design, MeetMeg
Area: 2,000 square ft.
Employees: 4 full-time, 2 part-time
Top brands: FYSH, Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, Ray-Ban, Nike
Facebook: facebook.com/EyeShopOptical
Instagram: instagram.com/eyeshopoptical
Twitter: twitter.com/myEyeShop
Yelp: yelp.com/biz/eyeshop-optical-lewis-center

“EyeShop is 100 percent me, in every way,” says owner Dr. Cynthia Sayers. “I love adorable things and anything that represents whimsy.”

By any measure, Sayers’ experience owning and operating EyeShop Optical has been a successful one. But the achievement she’s most proud of is having learned how to connect with her patients. “I love finding the common ground with people; whether we are both dog lovers, have children the same age, or like to gripe about our 40-something struggles. That makes the day worthwhile,” she says.

Being relatable, she says, means walking out into the optical to voice very honest opinions when a patient is stuck between three pairs of glasses. It means returning phone calls and responding to emails personally. In the management sphere, it means hiring employees “based on personality, not experience, she says. “I could not work six days a week and go to a place that I didn’t love. I wouldn’t expect my employees to either. So, making the environment light hearted makes every day a good day.” 

Looking back, Sayers remembers hoping that “people would just pop in without an appointment just to say ‘Hi,’ or grab a cup of coffee. Who knew that would actually happen?” 

Sayers opened EyeShop Optical in May 2011 after 10 years of practicing optometry in a commercial setting. During the first decade out of OD school she worked at a LensCrafters as an associate doctor. “The experience was great,” she recalls. “We saw a lot of patients from varying backgrounds. I learned who I wanted to be as a doctor and what was important to me.”  

By the time her daughter was 3, nights and weekends were starting to take their toll and she decided to look for alternatives. “My boss at the time was well versed in the business side of optometry. Watching and learning gave me the confidence to go out on my own. I knew I wanted to be involved in all aspects of the process, not just the exams … After driving by my current location many, many times, I finally decided it was time.”

Sayers and her husband started to piece together how they wanted the business to feel. The goal, she says, was to be the opposite of all things clinical. She recalls thinking, “Don’t show me one of those optical cabinets! I refuse to have matching waiting room furniture! EyeShop would be the place to go.” She opened the doors offering appointments six days a week with just herself and one employee.

Opening cold was nerve-wracking, she admits. “You have no idea if your plan will work or if people will come. I was lucky to align myself with great people. My marketing guru, Meg Russell, truly made my voice come through.” The toughest part, she says, was figuring things out as you go, “finding out labs can’t just do anything, and that you have to learn to problem solve quickly.”

Sayers describes Lewis Center as “the perfect demographic … a growing area that has just added a fourth high school so family is everything.” EyeShop carries several independent brands for those who are seeking to stand out, but they share optical space with brands people have come to rely on, she says. “We love FYSH and KLiiK. Unique design, great color options to make our boards pop, and a great price point. We also love Kate Spade for classic looks with a twist. And due to our large volume of families, Ray-Ban provides styles for kids, moms and dads, as well as great sunwear.”  

The results speak for themselves — business is booming. “We continue to grow at an amazing rate seven years in. I couldn’t be more proud,” Sayers says. If years as a business owner have taught her anything, it’s that “an optometry practice isn’t just about vision and health; it’s about earning someone’s trust and becoming a primary resource for their overall wellbeing.”

Oh, and one other thing, she says: “Why can’t it be fun too?”


PHOTO GALLERY (19 IMAGES) 


5 Cool Things About EyeShop Optical Center 

1. TGIF. “I love to bake,” says Sayers. “So every Friday is Dessert Friday. I bring in my baked goods to share with patients.” Some even make a point of booking on that day.  

2. NAME GAME. Last Christmas, staff received new titles. Explains Sayers: “My optical manager Rachel is the ‘EyeShop Overlord,’ and my lab tech is ‘Living on the Edger.’” There’s also a “Creative Genius,” “Style Guru” and “Master Organizer” on staff.  

3. PLAY BALL. Last year EyeShop sponsored a little league team and, you guessed it, Sayers treated them to popcorn and other goodies before the first game.  

4. SUMMER RITUAL. The town’s July 4th parade is taken seriously at EyeShop. “We’ve been Jedis, Superheroes, Emojis, and the Founding Fathers. Patients try to get us to give up how we are dressing each year,” Sayers says.  

5. VISION PLAN. Under the store’s EyeTeam Membership plan, patients can purchase a yearly membership for themselves or their families. They pay a reduced cost for exams and discounts throughout the year on glasses and contacts.  

 

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

“EyeShop sparkles with personality and love for the customer ... Complete engagement on every level, from the customer to team-building and the community.” — Brent Zerger, l.a. Eyeworks, Los Angeles, CA

“The owner has added a lot of unique touches to her office. You can really see the personality of it come out. She’s done a great job creating marketing materials and is very well branded.” — Mick Kling, OD, Invision Optometry, San Diego, CA

“I love the in-house vision plan and the detailed card... and that the owner makes baked goods for patients on Fridays and holds contests with prizes.” — Natalie Taylor, Taylor Vision Consultants, Boston, MA


This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of INVISION.      

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