Let’s say you want to give someone a gift that you want them to remember. What you don’t do is give them a gift card, socks, or a fruit cake. Those gifts are overdone to the point of nausea. Not that there’s anything wrong with fruit cake, mind you. It can be quite delicious, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s common, expected, and not exactly the kind of thing that people are likely to remember for very long afterwards. Being able to come up with that perfect gift idea is really, really difficult. Ideally, you need to think of something that the intended giftee really wants, but doesn’t know they want.
What you sell in your optical shop is a lot like this. If all you sell is the basic and mundane, then you aren’t special. There becomes no difference in what you have in your store as compared to an endless choice of online outlets. What kind of things can you carry in your shop that people aren’t going to find as readily online? Well, it seems like a lot of brand name frames are already available all over the Internet – often below your cost – so they’re out. Most lenses are in the same boat. Plastic, polycarbonate, polarized, photochromic – they can all be had pretty much anywhere online. One thing that can set you apart, however, is glass.
The Old Man
The last thing that you want is a gift that makes you look like you haven’t updated your fashion sense since the 1940’s. Glass can often conjure that image of massive frames, large lenses, and exceedingly dated looks. While that was obviously true back when glass was the only option, that’s nowhere near the case any more. Glass has moved on and matured, and isn’t your old man’s lens material anymore. Ideal for things like high-end sunwear, glass can be a great addition to setting yourself apart from everyone else. It’s even kept up with the times, so you can get all manner of digital and free-form designs in glass as well, making it available in many of the same lens designs found in plastic-based materials.
One of the major reasons people don’t seem to like glass lenses is because they think they can break easily. Certainly, if you drop them onto concrete, or step on them, then yes, you’re going to have a bad time. Overall, however, I don’t see how this is really a major concern for people. Let’s take a look at coffee mugs. They’re somewhat more breakable than glass lenses, but we’ll go with this example for a bit. A mug is something that people often use a few times a day (or more, depending on your coffee addiction). For how frequently I use a mug, rarely do I break them. Since I know dropping it is a bad idea, I avoid doing it. So why is this a difficulty for eyeglass lenses? I’m fairly certain I’d be a lot more careful with handling my eyewear, as well, since I’d rather break an $8 mug than a pair of glasses that were several hundred.
The point here is that they aren’t some fragile little flower that are going break if you look at them the wrong way. Regardless of the lens material, If you do something careless with your eyewear and they break, it’s probably at least a little bit your fault, and not the fault of the eyewear.
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out
There also seems to be an assumption in a lot of places that glass is somehow ‘more dangerous’ than other materials. I’ve heard people assume that they can’t sell glass because they’ll get sued, or that the patients will go blind if a lens breaks, or both. I’m sure much of this came about from the rise of plastic lenses in the beginning. There had to be something for them to tout, and that was it.
A given glass lens tends to be more well-tested than any given plastic lens. This is because every standard glass lens is drop-ball tested. So that means you know that the lens is up to impact resistance, and that it’s safe. Plastic, on the other hand, doesn’t require every single lens to be tested, just a ‘representative sample’. So the first time that most of them get tested is when they’re sitting on the patient’s face and deflecting away a BB from that brand new Red Rider gun they got for Christmas.
Perceived value – worth the price
You can feel when something is cheap. Sometimes it’s easy to explain – maybe it’s flimsy, fragile, or otherwise not up to par. Other times, there’s a combination of things that just give you the vibe that something isn’t quite right. That what you’ve received is probably the cheapest thing that’s ever been made. One of the qualities that we tend to attribute to how ‘cheap’ something feels is weight. When it’s really, really light, we can get a little cautious. There’s often an assumption that if it’s light, then someone must obviously have ‘cheaped out’ on the materials to make it. That’s why one of the often-negative aspects of glass lenses can actually be a positive. The additional weight helps people justify the cost of higher-end eyewear because it feels like it’s worth more. The main part of your job in selling eyewear is making sure that your customer is happy with what you’re giving them. That means being able to help them overcome any mental obstacles that they may have when it comes to their purchase.
The other thing to keep in mind with the ‘weight’ of glass is that, for a large percentage of prescriptions, there’s a very minor difference. The lower the prescription, the closer the weight is to other materials.
– Ralphie Parker