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VSP Global Enters Brick-and-Mortar with 2 Stores

They’re located in Chicago.

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – VSP Global enters brick-and-mortar retail with the opening of its first two Eyeconic stores in the country.

The stores are located in Chicago. They will serve as an extension of VSP’s ecommerce site, “connecting products, services and a VSP network doctor to retail-minded consumers who are looking for experiences that bridge the divide between digital and physical,” according to a press release.

“We are thrilled to bring the very first Eyeconic stores to Chicago and offer customers a differentiated eye care and eyewear experience,” said Bill Vaughan, president of VSP Retail. “Transparent prices and seamless digital and physical retail access are the cornerstones of our brand. And in partnership with a Doctor of Optometry, we now offer comprehensive eye exams using state-of-the-art technology to ensure eye health and wellness remains the focal point of our customer journey.”

As previously announced, VSP chose to launch the Eyeconic stores in Chicago “based on higher out-of-network claims the company was seeing at optical chains and mass retailers in the city.” VSP Vision Care is the nation’s largest not-for-profit vision benefits company and covers one in four people in the U.S., the release explains.

The first store, located at 1647 North Damen Ave., opened to the public on June 15 and will host a grand opening celebration on June 29. The second store, located at 916 W. Randolph St., will open to the public on July 13 and host a grand opening celebration on July 27.

“A strategic, wholly owned retail footprint helps meet client expectations and contributes to a healthy and competitive network,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “By reducing out-of-network leakage, we also ensure members in Chicago are getting the most value out of their benefits — particularly those who fall into the 20 percent of consumers who prefer mass retail and online-based eyewear stores over private practice. This also opens new employment opportunities for VSP network doctors who desire to practice full-scope optometry in a retail setting.”

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Each Eyeconic store will feature a selection of about 500 men’s, women’s and kids’ frames from over 30 brands. The stores will also offer all major brands of contact lenses.
Patients can schedule eye exams online and browse eyewear before coming in to see a VSP network doctor.

“As we conducted research, we identified a unique, uncommitted consumer who is looking for simplified shopping, transparency and convenience when it comes to their eye care and eyewear-buying experience,” said Vaughan. “We are building the Eyeconic brand to meet the needs of discerning customers. That includes many residents in Chicago’s dense urban market of about 2.7 million people, where over 400,000 VSP members live and work today.”

Eyeconic stores are considered in network for most VSP, Cigna and MetLife members. Eyeconic also accepts private pay and most other vision insurance plans as an out-of-network option.

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Contact Lens Maker Acquired

The company sells the Extreme H2O product line.

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ROCHESTER, NY — Clerio Vision Inc., a developer of laser-based vision correction solutions, announced that it has acquired Hydrogel Vision Corp. (HVC).

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HVC, founded in 2002, is best known for its Extreme H2O product line and its “multiple differentiated offerings that personalize the contact lens wearing experience,” according to a press release. For example, HVC offers lenses in multiple diameters, with smaller lenses to more comfortably fit those with smaller corneas or narrower eyelids, and larger lenses for those with larger corneas or for improved sports performance.

“As Clerio began preparations for its first contact lens offering, we quickly identified HVC as a best-in-class manufacturing partner,” said Alex Zapesochny, co-CEO of Clerio Vision. “We are thrilled to have now fully joined forces with HVC and to further build on its history of offering innovative products of the highest quality.”

HVC contacts are also made from a proprietary ultra-hydrating material that retains up to 99% of its moisture, “which can help to minimize the dryness and itchiness that is often experienced by contact lens wearers late in the day, and may be especially helpful to those who work a lot with screens or live in dryer climates,” according to the release. HVC also distributes the only disposable opaque color contacts for those with astigmatism.

Clerio was founded in 2014 to commercialize breakthrough femtosecond laser research at the University of Rochester. The company’s technology enables the laser writing of unique patterns into contact lenses that optimize visual acuity, including superior correction at both far and near distances for those with presbyopia. Clerio’s multifocal contact lens product is currently in clinical development and is expected to be on the market in the next 18 months.

HVC products are sold in 25 countries, either under the Extreme H2O brand or under one of several private label arrangements. All HVC employees will be retained and its manufacturing and fulfillment activities will continue to be carried out in its locations in Sarasota, FL.

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Shopko Optical Now Has 12 Freestanding Locations

It also announced appointments to its leadership team.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Shopko Optical announced that it continues the relocation of 80 optical centers into freestanding locations.

To date, Shopko Optical has opened 12 stand-alone locations, with an additional 12 locations slated to be relocated from their former Shopko store locations by early August.

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The remainder of the store locations are scheduled to open throughout the summer and fall of 2019. Shopko Optical will base its headquarters in Green Bay and will employ 40 people on its corporate team.

In May, Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its acquisition of Shopko Optical. Shopko was a retail chain that announced plans plans to wind down its operations.

Shopko Optical has also announced several appointments to its leadership team.

Jim Eisen, who is serving as interim CEO, is helping to lead the company through its transition. Eisen, whose role was officially announced earlier this year, was previously the president of Visionworks. Eisen is joined by Shopko Optical veterans, as well as some new additions to the leadership team.

Kirk Lauterback, a 25-year Shopko Optical veteran, has been named vice president of optical operations and will oversee merchandising, as well as the company’s retail optical centers, and its manufacturing facility in DePere, WI.

Dr. Thomas Bobka will continue to serve as director of optometry services. Bobka has been with Shopko Optical for over 20 years and will serve as the doctor liaison and support optometrist practice management.

“We are excited to bring together a strong group of individuals with a demonstrated track record of strategic leadership that supports the care of our patients, customers, and our teammates,” Eisen said.

Additions to the Shopko Optical leadership team are Donna Capichano who will serve as vice president of store development; Cindy Moen, who will serve as the vice president of human resources; and Cathleen Stewart, who will serve as vice president of marketing.

Capichano has 25 years of retail real estate development experience in both big-box and specialty retail and is transitioning to Shopko Optical from her former position with Shopko Stores Operating Co. Moen is also transitioning from Shopko, where she spent the past 12 years leading HR business teams in the stores and corporate office. Stewart joins the Shopko Optical team from Batteries Plus. She brings 15 years of experience developing and leading strategic marketing programs.

“We have worked to build an organization that serves our optical centers the way our doctors and opticians serve our patients and customers in our communities across the country: with clinical expertise, personal attention, quality and integrity. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family,” said Eisen.

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Online Eyewear Firm Opens More Brick-and-Mortar Stores

It now has 7 locations.

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Minneapolis-based Eyebobs, which started as an online retailer, has opened its seventh bricks-and-mortar location.

The newest store is at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD, Chain Store Age reports. It’s the fourth location to open this year.

Mike Hollenstein, CEO of the company, told Chain Store Age that other locations are under consideration.

“Eyebobs is dedicated to helping every customer frame their personality and be their true and authentic selves. Shopping should be a fun experience and we can’t wait to better serve our customers in the Washington, D.C., market with this new store,” he was quoted saying.

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INVISION reported on Eyebobs last year, when it announced plans for two stores: one in the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the other in Orlando, FL.

For years after its founding in 2001, the company concentrated on stylish reading glasses. It began selling prescription eyewear in 2017.

Read more at Chain Store Age

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