Dave Oatman and Amy Annett of Elgin Optical in St. Thomas.

By Denis Langlois

Elgin Optical in St. Thomas, Ont., is truly a family-run operation.

Established in 1981, the practice is operated by David Oatman, who has 45 years of experience in the optical industry, as well as his daughter Amy Annett, who followed in her father’s footsteps and has been a licenced optician since graduating from Georgian College in 2001.

The business, which is located in Elgin Mall, offers eye examinations along with eyeglasses and contact lens dispensing.

Two optometrists, Dennis Modesto and Jeffrey Drexler, receptionists June Whitcroft and Pat Bassett, lab technician Lauren York and frames stylist Pam Johnston also work at Elgin Optical.

Amy Annett recently spoke with Optical Prism about Elgin Optical, the benefits of owning an independent eyewear shop and what the future holds for the company.

Elgin Optical in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Q. What kind of clientele does your store service?

A. We service all clientele. We have a wide variety frames to accommodate any taste. We also offer a large selection of safety glasses, sport glasses, children’s frames and prescription sunglasses. We also offer a mobile service to hospitals and nursing homes in the area.

Q. What are the primary brand names your store features? What are your most popular styles?

A. We carry a large variety of designer frames, including Oakley, Nike, Armani, Coach, Ray-Ban, Silhouette, Lacoste, Versace, Guess, Easy Clip, Fysh and Bebe. Our most popular style this summer would be a deeper frame with a strong impact. Retro styles seem to be the way to go this season. Lots of colour and even some print.

Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use?

A. We have a Facebook page, Yellow Pages ad and an updated website. We also have a lawn billboard that we use to market our current sales.

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

A. One of the benefits of operating an independent business definitely would be the ability to hand pick all of our frames. We sit down with all our sales representatives and choose what styles we would like to carry and what we think our store needs. We are also able to use local suppliers that maybe big box stores wouldn’t have access to. It’s nice being part of a close knit community that likes to support local independent businesses and suppliers.

Q. Are there any changes or plans for the future for the store?

A. We are excited to welcome a new optometrist to our team, Dr. Riyad Khamis this summer. We have recently done some renovations and plan on staying in our location for many years to come.

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