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If I Owned: Chris Wheaton




If Chris Wheaton owned an eyecare business

My philosophy has always been “quality over quantity.” Wearing a $5 pair of knockoff Wayfarers and a pair of handmade acetate polarized sunglasses are completely different experiences: not just in the way you see, but the way you feel. It’s like the difference between a cheap ill-fitting suit and a tailored one.

The “buy local” trend means more people have started to recognize the advantages of buying quality products from passionate people who care about what they are producing. Consumers are drawn to the story and the faces behind the product. Quality not only applies to goods, but also experiences. When you have both of those things in the same place, that’s where I want to be.

Working at Eye Q has given me a lot of insight into how a small business should run. It’s a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. We have a curated, stylish selection displayed in a way that is not overwhelming. My employer and mentor, Dr. David Luria, has created a store in which the product speaks for itself. If there is one thing I value working at Eye Q, it’s customer retention. Through being genuine and not just saying anything to make a sale, we’ve made a true customer base.

Through my work, I’ve developed a clear vision for my own future store. I spend a lot of free time communicating with people and shops via Instagram and Facebook, and visiting as many stores as I can when I travel. I don’t want to limit myself by only using other optical shops as places to draw inspiration. I’ve always thought of my store as if Charles Eames and Steve Jobs co-owned a speakeasy. I’d want you to feel like you are entering your favorite bar or cafe; a place that inspires you and makes you feel at ease.

I really enjoy finding small independent brands. At my store, I plan to showcase lesser-known brands and pay close attention to my customer’s personal style and image. I’ll also feature an immersive social media presence, with Instagram and Facebook but also a cohesive website and webstore experience. Taking a tip from Gary Black and Black Optical, printed lookbooks are another way I plan on getting in touch with customers. Too often, people shopping for glasses look on it as a sterile and tedious experience. I want my customers — now and in the future — to feel unique, love the way they look, and enjoy the experience of buying eyewear.


Chris Wheaton is a licensed optician at Eye Q Optical in Boston. He has worked in the vision care field for seven years and is an unabashed enthusiast about anything design, craft and eyewear. Contact him at and follow him on Instagram at @cwheaton.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of INVISION.


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