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This Small Town Optical Bags Some Big Names

Petaluma, CA owner/optician recounts close encounters with some of her personal heroes.

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HERE AT INVISION we are constantly reaching out to ECPs asking them one question or another to help us with stories. And we’re always amazed that people as busy as eyecare professionals and small-business owners are willing to take the time to respond. Every so often, someone sends us a reply that could almost be a story in itself. That’s how we felt about this reply we got from Nancy Revis, owner of Uber Optics in Petaluma, CA, when we asked optical owners to tell us about celebrities who had come into their store. Here’s an account of a small town with some serious cultural credentials, through the eyes of its coolest optician.

Singer/songwriter Tom Waits

So, Tom Waits lives in Occidental, CA, which is very close to Petaluma. I kept hearing that he was always spotted all over town; at Acre Coffee, at Copperfield’s Books, at all the local restaurants. Why was he not coming into my shop?? I have the cool eyewear and he has cool taste!! Tom Waits always has cool eyewear on! A few years back, I saw him eating dinner with his wife before Ricky Lee Jones was performing around the corner from my shop (Ricky Lee Jones and Tom Waits were a flame back in the ’60 s)… so that was cool. I melted. We were both going to the same show!! My friend and I were SO hoping that he was going to hop up on stage and sing with her… but, alas, he didn’t.

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Fast forward to about six months ago. Myself, Jess and Elizabeth were working on a regular workday and Elizabeth was closing a sale at the computer desk. In walks a woman, a younger woman (daughter) and then Tom Waits. I instantly started sweating. It was actually happening. Tom Waits was walking into my store. Everything seemed to slow down and I started to sweat. I was getting “swoobs” (my sister and I have this saying) which means sweaty boobs. HAHAHA. “Swoobs” and “Swits.”

Nancy Revis, owner of Uber Optics in Petaluma, CA.

I greeted them and Tom went right over to my chairs and sitting area and just chilled out. He was watching me help his wife and giving feedback. Nodding only. He looked so cool. Crazy huge grey curly hair. I offered him water but he declined. He sat there and grabbed a Rolling Stone. I mean, for f*@!s sake, Tom Waits was sitting in my store and reading a Rolling Stone. Jess hadn’t seen that he was in the shop because she was checking in jobs. So I walked to the back and all I said was… “Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god,” and then walked back out. She came out and her facial expression said, “HOLY S*@T” …

His wife LOVED cateyes and so do I … So, I ended up selling her an Oliver Peoples that I wear… the Marienella in black. She said she is coming back for a Vinylize, but she hasn’t yet.

John McCrea [of the band Cake] was so super cool. I asked if he would model for me but he didn’t want to. But, I was so stoked that he bought glasses from me. He was hilarious and sweet. I have seen Cake perform four or five times and was telling him how I had seen him perform for the first time at the Phoenix, which is just the next street over from my shop back, in the late 1990s, and he was like, “I think I kinda remember that show…” He was a partier. He was all impressed that I knew who he was because he was all gray now, and was barely ever photographed.

Punk rock icon and actor John Doe sports his new Moscot’s few Nancy Revis.

John Doe — yes, the pioneer punk rocker from X and actor — he became my customer the moment I opened because Pat with Moscot [Eyewear] was his friend, and he sent him a pair of glasses and I was the liaison. He let me take his photo wearing Moscot on a few occasions. Just recently he was in town performing with the Psychedelic Furs near my shop and swung in to say “Hi”. He fell in love with a pair of sunglasses and modeled them for me. I told him to let me take his photo wearing the sunglasses that he loved, and that I will get them to send him a pair—and they did. So now he totally loves me and sent me a pic of himself in NYC wearing the Moscot sunglasses.

My other cool customers are Chris Boyes (Oscar-winning sound guy for huge movies). He worked on “Avatar 2”, “The Lion King”, “Captain Marvel” and other cool stuff. You can look him up on IMDB and Wikipedia. He is super cool. One of the nicest guys I have met in the business. Also, George Merrill. He is a huge songwriter. He wrote a few Whitney Houston songs—“How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”. He has the best personality ever. He once serenaded “Happy Birthday” to Elizabeth, my coworker, with our shop guitar. He always makes sure our guitar is tuned properly.

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Jane Levy’s mom has been my customer since I opened. One time she came in with Jane and she bought her a pair of Anne et Valentin sunglasses and then she posted a pic of herself on IG wearing them.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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