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The Business: An American in Milan

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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.

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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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