By Denis Langlois

Klein Optical recently marked its 25th year of business in the Gloucester suburb of Ottawa, Ontario.

Robert Klein, in partnership with his two sons Daniel and Peter, opened the eyewear and sunglasses store in 1991 in Ottawa’s Medical-Surgical Eye Building.

Daniel Klein, a licenced optician since 1987, is now the current owner and face of the company.

He works alongside a pair of eyewear consultants as well as his son Elliott, a lab technician who also manages the company’s digital media.

Recently, Daniel Klein spoke with Optical Prism about his family-run business and the secret to its longevity.

Q. What kind of clientele does your store service?

A. We tend to service clientele who enjoy premium products because of the quality and longevity they offer. For example, the majority of our frames are made of either lightweight titanium or durable acetate in Italy, France or Japan. Our clients often return to us for their next eyewear purchase after experiencing ZEISS lenses and the customized vision they achieve by taking into account frame design, face shape and eye imperfections. We encourage our patients to drop by at any time for complimentary adjustments, maintenance and replacement nose pads and customers both appreciate and have come to expect this service.

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

A. When merchandising our store, we try to feature a mix of sought-after brands such as adidas, Maui Jim and Ray-Ban as well as high-quality European and Japanese designers that may have less awareness around them, such as KIO YAMATO, Orgreen and Masunaga. Drilled rimless frames by Silhouette are another style that are very popular, especially with patients concerned about the weight of their glasses. As of late, we’re reaching younger clients through simple streetwear-inspired labels that fashion-conscious youth find authenticity in, including Cheap Monday and Original Penguin.

Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use?

A. In the past year, we have aborted our use of direct mail due to the falling return on investment. Instead, we now run a very focused digital campaign. At the core of this campaign, our blog at profiles eyewear styles found in-store and discusses eye health and vision care solutions. We syndicate our content across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram daily and send a monthly email newsletter. This combination has allowed us to connect with new millennial customers while maintaining the direct contact that our more mature clientele enjoys.

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

A. Operating as an independent boutique allows us to stock exactly what our customers want. We meet with representatives from each of our labels every season to handpick each frame with our clients in mind. As such, we maintain a spectrum of styles from simple classics to adventurous high-fashion pieces. The space we use to display our styles is also free from creative restrictions. Additionally, having a small team facilitates the creation of close relationships with our customers and we highly value their happiness and loyalty.

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

A. We’re very happy with our current location as we receive many referrals from the optometrists and ophthalmologists on-site. We’ve also found success using new technologies that directly benefit patients, such as i.Scription and i.Terminal by ZEISS, and we approach new tools such as these keenly when they emerge. For the future, we intend to expand our use of paid digital advertising to reach younger clients. As always, we will continue to adapt our inventory as trends and our clients’ desires evolve.

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