An OD/CEO's perspective on MIDO

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 edition of INVISION.

Mike Daley of The Vision Council

Anytime I have an opportunity to visit Italy, I jump on it. I’ve been attending MIDO for the past five years and each year I enjoy it more. The choices are unlimited for your practice, and in many cases you can find fantastic opportunities for high margin purchases.

I believe every optical retailer who sells high-end eyewear should visit either MIDO or Silmo ... and don’t wait too long! The sheer experience of seeing the multitude of unique brands will open your eyes to new prospects and force you to make some challenging business decisions.

Looking abroad for inspiration allows you to differentiate your business with some exclusive product and bringing in an unknown brand means you can charge what your individual market will bear. You may be the only one in the states to find that unique pearl where you don’t have to settle for the typical 2-1/2 to 3 times markup and you can determine your own selling price.

As a practice owner, I tend to shy away from visiting many of the larger brands that have huge presence in the United States while I am there. This enables me to keep the exclusivity that my practice is known to offer, and when needed, I can visit the more commercial brands at Vision Expo East which is always a few weeks later.

Additionally, as CEO of Tortoise & Blonde Eyewear, I am also on a mission to meet new factories and reinforce existing relationships, as well as see the styles and trends for the coming year. This year, I was at the show from open to close and still did not have the time to see everything. It is like Vision Expo East on steroids. Because I attended, I was able to see that our product development is on trend and will continue to be throughout 2016.

There are many reasons to go to Milan; fashion, style, culture, food, people, opportunity, new product development ... did I mention food? Milan is a city similar to NYC; big, gray, bustling and full of excitement with people from all over the world. I always arrive a day early to walk the streets, visit a cafe or five, and wander in and out of stores talking to various shop owners. Its great to see how product is displayed in optical stores, clothing boutiques and gourmet food stores, as well as to experience the Italian way of merchandising. Europeans are certainly not shy about how they dress and the eyewear they buy. The real challenge is always translating my observations into my practice.

Until next year, ciao!

STEVEN WEISFELD, OD, grew up in the industry working parttime in his dad’s wholesale eyewear business. Today, he is CEO of the Tortoise & Blonde eyewear brand; president of Private Stock, a wholesaler of optical products; and medical director of Eye Care 4 Kids, as well as president, optometrist and owner of Spectacles, a full-service practice in Englewood, NJ.


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