The time to differentiate is of the essence! The recent mergers should have told you that much by now.
The time has come to ask yourself, why it is that people visit your store, and not the Pearle around the corner. Sure, you are a locally owned store, you support your community. You employ locals, pay your taxes, but guess what! So does that Pearle around the corner!
You offer Ray-bans, with a nice pair of lenses, but so does that Pearle around the corner, for a lower price. So why should i buy my frames at your store?? You serve a better coffee, that’s nice but I didn’t come here for coffee! If i wanted some coffee, I would go to Starbucks and help 10K refugees get employed. You got better service? Yeah when you are open, but that Pearle around the corner has got a 24/7 hotline to call. You are a great guy who coaches the football team, yeah, I am sure the guy at that Pearle around the corner keeps little boys locked up in his basement.
You can differentiate your store with a great cup of coffee, a friendly chat and the best eyecare your customer can find. But do you really think these big box guys can’t do the same? That they will serve shitty coffee for ever and mess up people’s RX for ever? No!! They are smart, they got marketing budgets that can buy out your countries debt AND pay for a wall on both sides of the border.They didn’t evolve from creating handmade frames out of their daddy’s garage into international conglomerates because they are stupid.
Be that local hero, serve them that great coffee, ask about their kids, provide the best eyecare and service, create the best brand, product and quality awareness. Do that, sure!! But the most visible way to differentiate, is to offer them something that the other guy doesn’t have. Not coffee, not great service. The bigbox guys will beat you at that in the end, trust me they will! Offer them the very first thing TEF was founded on, Independent eyewear! Find those pearls (not Pearles) in this big ocean that we at TEF call “the optical arena”, cause an arena it is! Sure there are indie start ups with crappy quality, companies with a great line but a shitty back office, but find those awesome ones that work for you! That provide you with that missing link to complete your collection. It isn’t just that 1 brand that you can add to your assortment so it will all be perfect. You have to create a harmonic selection that can both append to your current lines or distinguish from it.
Please do visit Vision Expo, Mido and Silmo! See the HOT! zone and the Village! But don’t forget the smaller niche shows that are more local, like LOFT or BOLD. Because sometimes, the pearl is just around the corner!
Credit image: Ochis Eyewear