I’ve always been pretty conventional when it comes to things like shopping for glasses. I am glad that over the last few years a revolution has happened as it relates to prescription glasses. Gone are the days of walking into a conventional optical where you try on a bunch of glasses and pay loads of money. Why the evolution? People’s tolerance for paying exuberant amounts of money for what they classify as standard health care needs has changed. There were also very few choices available for people who just wanted stylish glasses for a reasonable price and just as economics always seems to function, where there isn’t enough choice in the market then in comes a new player(s) to fix that problem. A contributing factor to this need for choice is the dramatic shift in working arrangements specifically, working for yourself or freelancing sans any health care benefits. A lot of health care plans have also removed the eye care benefit from many health care plans. So, the conventional method of shopping for glasses has evolved and perfectly timed too because I am now one of those people without health benefits who works for myself.
I’ve needed glasses ever since I was in grade five. The moment the optometrist told me this I remember being both excited and horrified at the same time. Excited because I’ve always loved the look of glasses but horrified because I didn’t want to change my look or bring attention to me in any way. I basically only wore them when we were watching a movie in class and the lights were off, a dark movie theatre or when I got older to drive. I strained my eyes so badly just to avoid wearing glasses that by the time I was working a full-time job I had to get contact lenses for full-time use and, I’ve never turned back.
I always had a pair of glasses lying around the house in case I ever had an eye infection or something like that but I literally wore them once or twice per year at most. The reason was that I’ve never liked how any glasses looked on my face. Whenever I would enlist the help of the person working at the optical, they would try to sell me the latest designer or most popular frames that everyone was buying instead of glasses that actually suited my face. After these purchases I often felt resentful because I had spent an insane amount of money and I had glasses that I didn’t really love.
Fast forward many years later, this winter in particular, has been hard on my eyes and it’s been 15 years since I started wearing contact lenses full-time. I figured it was time to give my tired old eyes a break. I decided to try glasses again.
I don’t have any health benefits at the moment as I mentioned earlier so even getting an eye exam means I am bargain shopping and trying to get the biggest bang for my buck. I didn’t want a quick and dirty eye exam that some optical shops offer – I needed an eye exam that not only checks my vision but the health of my eyes too.
I called a few optometrists and the prices ranged from $105 – $189. I would always ask what the test includes and then compare apples to apples. Don’t get taken advantage of and ask what you’re getting for what price, ask friends what they do or even go to an optometrist that has been recommended to you by someone who actually wears glasses and gets their eyes checked regularly. Lucky for me I had a really great optometrist when I was working in Toronto years ago in the financial district and she happened to be the best price too – so I went back to see her. She is also the doctor who sold me my first pair of contact lenses 15 years ago. Many of you asked so here is the answer – they don’t provide eye exams at any of the Warby Parker locations in Canada.
I had my prescription in hand so next it was time to find my new glasses! I have been out of the game for a long time now so I had no idea where to go. My son wears glasses too but I’ve always paid a fortune for his (as we are always willing to do for our kids). They don’t sell kid’s glasses at Warby Parker. Some of the narrower styles fit 12 and 13 year old children but my son is too young at the moment.
When I asked for help from my other freelancer friends, many of them recommended Warby Parker. There is a boutique on Queen West in Toronto so I decided to check it out.
Warby Parker is the place to get stylish glasses without the price tag of those designer frames and you will not have to compromise on style here. All of their prices range from $150-$200 and include the prescription lenses and all the fancy coatings too. Other places I used to shop at would tack on another almost $100 per coating – it was Ludacris! Warby Parker includes the coatings as part of the package because they know most people want them.
I felt very comfortable shopping there because as soon as I walked in, the sales associate gave me a quick run-through of how to navigate the Warby Parker store. Each style had a face shape attached to it so you essentially shop by your shape face/size – narrow, medium, wide. All styles are unisex. The sales associate found about 10 pairs I could try on and I found a few as well. I narrowed it down to two styles and I ended up going with a pair from the new Warby Parker Spring Line – Hughes Small Chestnut Crystal. They were very different from what I originally thought about getting but I liked them because they fit very well, they were a little bit bold (but not distracting) and I could easily wear these while dressed up or dressed down.
I had to pay an extra $50 because one of my eyes has a very strong prescription. Thick glass does not look nice so I paid a premium for a high index lens (thinner glass).
A lot of you asked if they sell sunglasses and the answer is Yes! They sure do and they are pretty darn nice too!
A lot of online optical stores have virtual try-on where you can upload a picture of yourself and try on glasses and avoid going into the store. I for some reason don’t feel comfortable doing this – maybe in the future – so, I was happy to try these on before ordering them. It made me feel even more excited about my purchase. They offer to ship for free to your house within 11 days. This is very handy because I didn’t want to trek all the way back downtown to pick up my new glasses.
Warby Parker has quite the return policy too. I still can’t believe it but you can change your mind within 30 days if you don’t dig your new frames anymore. At this point you can exchange your glasses or just get your money back. They also offer service to your glasses if they break for a very reasonable price and sometimes depending on the case, repairs are free (or if there is a defect they will give you a whole new pair).
Another bonus that I found out about after purchasing my glasses is that for every pair purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need. It’s their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” Program. You can read more about it here: https://ca.warbyparker.com/buy-a-pair-give-a-pair. The impact they’ve made is pretty impressive!
Warby Parker is a brand built around the lifestyle of reading and being the bookworm that I am, I was immediately in love with this concept. The store felt real and made me feel like I am part of something special. They also had these fun illustrated maps available in the store: “The best spots to sit and read a book in Toronto map”. As well as free stationary pads. I think they know about my obsession with books and stationary….they must!
I hope you find this post helpful if you are in the market for new glasses. I am more than happy to answer any questions – just contact me!
Growing up my father would often do a family barbecue night in the backyard using his charcoal grill. The barbecue would be