By Denis Langlois

Deborah Moulton says she has had a love affair with eyeglasses since she received her first pair of shades at age six.

A second-generation optician – her father and teacher Harry being the first – Moulton has 38 years of experience in the industry.

That includes the past 10 years as owner of Moulton Optical, a premier eyewear boutique in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Moulton says matching frames to prescriptions to faces continues to be her passion.

“After all, the eyeglasses we wear are the first impression. Human nature is to connect with the eyes; the first thing they see are their eyes then whatever happens to be framing them,” she says.

Recently, Optical Prism magazine spoke with Moulton about her business in eastern Canada.

Q. Please tell us about the frames available at Moulton Optical and a bit about your clientele.

A. My protégé frame consultant Sheena Moir and I hand-pick the entire selection of 500 frames, which is constantly changing as we only sell one ophthalmic frame of each style; we do repeat sunglasses.

The frames are not selected so much by brands as bought specifically for quality, fit, shape and colour. My theory is if you have to wear them, they have to be flattering. We work with eye colour, skin tone and face shape.

My clientele are early-20s to late-90s, scattered across Canada. They are fun, open and appreciative of quality and customer service. I’m very lucky.

Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use?

A. Over the last 10 years I’ve done local shows, health, retail, fashion, etc, for branding. I have a Curiosity Shop within Moulton Optical carrying anything from accessories to a permanent jigsaw puzzle swap. As we’re in a freestanding location, this allows the clientele to come in, without feeling pressured to buy. They remember us (first impressions are everything ) and come back for our personalized service and smiles.

Location and word-of-mouth seem to be my greatest referral. I have a customer appreciation program. After the 10th referral purchase, the client gets a free pair of eyeglasses. We ask every customer how they happened upon us and record the referrals in our client’s file. Then send our client a thank-you card.

Q. What are some of the benefits of operating an independent outlet?

A. Being an independent is challenging. I’ve been burnt by frame companies, overcharged by labs, it’s been quite a ride.

The inventory is kept to a select six companies, first criteria quality, secondly not carried locally or online. Labs are kept to two, again for quality.