By Denis Langlois

Optician Dave Dunkley says a top priority for staff at Fourth Avenue Vision Centre is to educate customers about the best lenses and frames to suit their needs.

“We feel that an informed customer is someone who makes better decisions,” says the website for the Saskatoon, Sask., optical shop.

The vision centre runs a blog on its website, which is regularly updated with information on the business and how to protect the eyes and improve vision. Staff also post often on Facebook.

Dave, who has been dispensing eyewear since 1975, and his wife Linda became the sole owners of Fourth Avenue Vision Centre five years ago. The dispensary opened more than 20 years ago and Dave joined the team in 1998.

Four people, including the Dunkleys, work at the store.

Recently, Dave discussed his business with Optical Prism magazine.

Q. What kind of clientele does your store service?

A. Our store provides service to a wide range of clients including many baby boomers. Many of our clients have been coming to us, first with their parents as a child and now they bring their children to us. So we have served third-generation families.

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

A. We designed our store to be welcoming and comfortable for clients. Our current displays are set up to easily showcase different brands. We carry unique frames such as Kio Yamato, l.a. Eyeworks, Silhouette, Seraphin, OGA and Spectacle Eyeworks. We prefer to choose frames based on quality and style rather than popular name brands.

Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use?

A. Since moving to our new location, we have experimented with our own website, Facebook and Google. We tried flyers with little success. It’s been a learning process as none of us had prior marketing knowledge. So far, word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising for us.

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

A. Our store reflects our personal values and preferences. The biggest advantage of owning an independent practice is the ability to choose products that suit our and our client’s needs. As an independent practice, we can bring in new and exciting frames or close on a long weekend. We have the freedom to choose.

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

A. We are constantly learning and adapting to changes in the industry, such as digital marketing and online competition, so we can continue to grow and improve our business.

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