By Denis Langlois
Optician Steve Charlebois’ Off the Wall Eyewear Emporium certainly lives up to its name.
The optical shop in Moncton, N.B., is renowned for its collection of unique and eclectic eyewear, specializing in handmade and one-of-a-kind frames.
And the shop itself is also unique, with eyewear displayed on trendy wooden shelves and sunglass holders with moustaches. The shop is decorated with funky artwork on the walls, a large vintage velvet couch, eye-catching toys and other items.
Customers are greeted when they enter the shop by Charlebois’ three weiner dogs.
“Off the Wall Eyewear Emporium is not your ordinary optical shop,” he says.
Charlebois, who was born in Ottawa, opened the shop in November 2017. He runs the front end of the business, while his wife helps out with the behind-the-scenes operations. The shop also employs full-time student opticians.
Recently, Optical Prism spoke with Charlebois about Off the Wall Eyewear Emporium and his plans for the future.
- Please tell us about your unique optical shop and journey to opening.
- We opened in the latter part of 2017 and offer unique eyewear, prescription and non-prescription sun, prescription swim goggles, dive masks, contact lenses (including theatrical lenses), safety eyewear, prescription motorcycle goggles and anything else we can think of that none of the big box stores offer. I graduated from the opticianry program at Georgian College in 1999 and I worked for large corporations, but always dreamed of opening my own store. This is most likely due to the awesome times I had when I worked for my buddy who owns an independent optical store in Ottawa.
- What kinds of products are available at Off the Wall?
- We offer mainly European eyewear and bring in as many Canadian designers as possible. There is nothing like selling quality since it’s easy to show customers the difference. We do carry some Asian products, but we try to keep it to higher-end; made in Japan and South Korea. That being said it’s almost impossible not to bring China-made products, but we are very picky. A few brands we carry are Emmeline, Metrospec, Raen, Dick Moby, Roger’s, Serengeti, Zeal, Catherine d’Medici, Coco and Breezy, Miyagi, Dandy’s and we keep a large amount of kids frames in the store at all times. Handmade is always nice to bring in, it’s beautiful and more than not, the attention-to-detail and quality is there.
- What are your plans for the future?
- Going forward we would love to have a few more stores. Nothing crazy, just a few stores that would strive for excellence in service, product and community. Our values are high on family, treating every customer like a friend, going that extra-mile if we can and keeping it local. We love what we do and it shows. Since we have opened, it’s been a race to keep up with the demand. It started with just me, followed by my wife, then co-op students, now to permanent employees.