The Man, The Brand, The Store
For this Andover, MA optician and his family, true independence in business and style is the only way to go.
STORY BY DEIRDRE CARROLL
The space at 18 Park Street in Andover, MA, now called Todd Rogers, was previously a historic bar and grill. A crooked, two-story building in the heart of downtown, it was perfect for Todd Rogers Berberian and his dream of owning a commercial space. With careful consideration given to Andover’s Historical Commission, in 2014 Todd and wife Leigh gutted and redesigned the shabby 1840s space.
Still a little crooked, the exterior sports patina’d goosenecks and authentic New Orleans gas lanterns hinting at the experience that awaits customers inside: the perfect blend of old and new.
The old was easy thanks to the building and its centuries-old exposed beams, but how to incorporate the “new”? Luckily, Leigh Berberian had handy inspiration. “Todd said, ‘I want it to look like me. If I were a building I’d want it to look like me,’” she says. “I took a good look every day at what he wore, what his proclivities are, and what people already associated with him. It was a collaboration between the two of us every step of the way and I think it ended up looking just like Todd as a building!”
She started with his hometown, Somerville, outside Boston. “It’s got some real gritty history but Todd’s also kind of refined, so I wanted to make sure the space felt like that old school, local hangout where people walk by and wave to each other, but be refined and gentlemanly and not so masculine that females didn’t feel at home in it,” Leigh explains. “I always say Todd is that guy that every guy wants to be friends with and who makes elderly women blush. He just has that kind of general appeal. So, we went into the design saying, ‘How can men and women both fall in love with this space?’”
They started by repurposing the original bar. “It tells a story and it’s bulletproof. It’s been stained, drooled on, spilled on, I’m sure thrown up on. All this stuff,” shares Todd. So, they made it into their check out desk and dispensing tables. “So many people will rub it and say ‘Oh, I’ve had many a drink at this counter.’” The back of the bar where the liquor shelves were was refinished and stands in for frame boards. “It fits eyewear really, really well,” adds Todd. “I love the fact that it has some holes in it, some dings and cigarette burns all over it. It tells a tale. It shows its past and history.”
They’ve had lots of fun with the space, including a riff on a famous fashion logo. “I used a lot of PhotoTech, which is digitally printable wallpaper. Instead of buying something, we customized everywhere we wanted large wall murals or patterns,” shares Leigh. “We’ve got our ‘Louis Vuitton’ wall with the logo replaced with all Todd Rogers logos.”
‘Signed’ pictures line the walls of the optical with such glasses-wearing notables as Marilyn Monroe, Harry Potter, and Gandhi. “The idea is that all these people have gotten their glasses from Todd over the years and people think it’s hysterical,” she explains.
Both are huge fans of The Kingsmen and — in a nod to British spy movies — have included a collection of Todd Rogers-branded accessories fashioned after accessories displayed in the movies.
There is a wall of album covers and collections of hard covered books with titles like Evil Genius, Prision Days and Nights and Are Men Necessary? “We actually scoured used bookstores for the funniest ones we could find,” Leigh says.
The design is beautiful restoration meets Kartell meets your local bar, but Todd Rogers also offers the latest in lens finishing and eyecare tech. In a corner, behind glass, is a state of the art lab. They finish 95 percent of their lenses in-house and offer complete customization. They are also the only Boston-area EnChroma lens dealer. “We’re independent in our lens lines as well and we’re all about educating our patient base,” explains Todd.
There is an optometrist on site, Dr. Charlene Glynn, who has been the resident OD with Todd Rogers, and his previous practice Andover EyeCare, since 2010. In addition to providing comprehensive eye exams using an Optomap, she is experienced in pediatrics, contact lenses and ocular disease.
But it’s not all cheeky touches and fancy tech. Todd is on a mission. “The most important thing I’ve learned in my 27 years as a licensed optician is... properly educating our clients is the non-negotiable job of every optician. Knowledge is what will keep our vocation and our craft relevant.”
It’s a topic he can wax poetic on: “We, as a society, champion the best in automobiles, the finest in wines... yet consumers will easily be lured by the cheapest eyewear. It boggles my brain.” Asked why his glasses are more expensive, he educates his clients on “the technology behind each brand and why I align my business with these lens companies.”
His plans for the future? “F*cking world domination!” He’s kidding… mostly. “We’re looking to stay who we are and to not forget where we came from. But we want to continue to grow and become a name in the industry that when someone says, ‘Hey man, I’m looking for a really great frame,” people say, ‘You should really check out Todd Rogers. They’re the real deal.’”
PHOTO GALLERY (16 IMAGES)
Five Cool Things About Todd Rogers
1. WORLD DOMINATION: Todd Rogers is also home to the headquarters of Todd Rogers Eyewear, an independent wholesale frame brand. While the shop is known as the flagship store, the collection designed by Todd is distributed to over 600 independent practices in the U.S. and Canada.
2. LATE FOR DINNER: At the Berberians’ wedding, many on the guest list started out as clients. Never do business with friends doesn’t apply at Todd Rogers. The downside? Todd is often late for dinner, because he’s having too much fun at work.
3. COMMIT: “Commit to the Turn.” It’s a phrase Todd has been saying since he was a kid. “When I went independent in the office or when I decided to do the frame line, we said, ‘OK, we got to commit.’ So, for us, as a family, as an optical family, as a frame family, as the all-encompassing eyewear family, we’ve said if we’re going to do this, we’re going to commit to the turn and the turn is true independence.”
4. ALL THE FEELS: “Our marketing is really fun,” shares Leigh. “If you poke a small emotion inside someone with your marketing they are going to remember you. We do full page ads when we market in local magazines and tend to use ourselves, our family, our staff. It can be about eyesight over a lifetime with a heartwarming photo of our children or everybody naked behind a big banner that says, ‘All you need is a great pair!’”
5. READ UP: There are so many little design touches that Leigh added museum-like place cards; if you’re waiting to pick up your glasses or be seen by the doctor, you can read all the little asides that tell you why they made the design choices they did.
Winning awards isn’t the be-all and end-all of a successful business … but it doesn’t hurt. In addition to being named this year’s America’s Finest Optical Retailer first place winner, Todd Rogers also won the inaugural “OPTImum Independent Retailer of the Year” at this past Vision Expo East, which celebrates independent boutique retailers by showcasing their products, storefronts, visions and — most importantly — their stories. But that’s not it for the accolades. In 2017, Todd himself was named “Optician of the Year for Massachusetts.” His response upon receiving the news? “All I could afford for years was peanut butter sandwiches. Let’s go get a steak.”
This article originally appeared in the July-August 2018 edition of INVISION.
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