The Optical Shoppe’s FIRST year in business!
It’s widely known that the first year in business is an onerous one. It’s a tough gig building a business. It takes time to gain traction, to build up a customer base, and to settle in and become comfortable in your new business. An owner really needs to feel how it is to “own” their biz.
Imagine doing all that in the time of pandemic shutdown and phased reopening. That’s just what Lisa McIntyre is doing. Lisa became the new owner of The Optical Shoppe in the Cornwall Centre in July 2019 and here we are – on their one year anniversary – learning what business looks like for them right now.
Lisa is a seasoned entrepreneur. She knew The Optical Shoppe was a great investment because she and her family have owned and built successful businesses since the 1980s. Last year, a mutual connection brought Lisa the proposal to buy The Optical Shoppe. Now she’s fitting folks with the latest fashion and sport eyewear and adapting their business operations to our new way of living.
“We’ve seen a mix of both our regular customers and new folks. Our customers who typically invest in sunglasses for the summer months have been in to see us, and we’ve welcomed new customers from sponsored social posts,” says Lisa. “We’ve had great response for brand names like Ray Ban, Kate Spade, Oakley, Versace, Swarovski, Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabana.”
A (new) typical day looks something like this – with a later start at 11a.m., the staff welcomes a scheduled customer for one-on-one shopping and fittings. This gives the team a chance to sanitize the frames, clean common spaces and manage the flow of pedestrian traffic. When there are several customers in the space at once, distancing is managed by limiting entry of new guests. “We want everyone who comes in to feel safe and have a good experience while they are with us,” said Lisa.
“I’ve really loved that we have been able to personalize our service more because of COVID-19,” said Lisa. “Our challenge now is that often people may not understand that we are open,” she continued. As of July, about 90% of the stores in the Cornwall Centre are re-opened, each a little differently and each with varied hours. “We have been seeing more and more people every week – the government workers are coming back downtown. That’s encouraging!” said Lisa.
Her advice to other owners is to reach out to customers. We are, after all, social creatures. “Call your clients!” said Lisa. “We’ve checked up with customers to let them know that we can help in a pinch if their glasses get damaged, and that we’re all working to make shopping fun and comfortable, but also just to see if they are doing alright.”
Downtown – what a great place to be. Reconnect with The Optical Shoppe. Summer’s here; get your sunnies out!
The Optical Shoppe
Inside the Cornwall Centre, main floor next to SaskTel