Jeffrey’s Manhattan Eyeland beats generic chain shops
By Laura Shanahan
Let’s play a little game, you and me. I’m going to give you clues, and you guess what type of venue we’re visiting today, OK?
In the storefront window is a lineup of an artfully wrought painted plaster zebra, tiger and antelope, and an avant-garde rendering of an owl.
Inside, the walls are covered with artwork by famous local painters and photographers, as well as by some up-and-coming types. The approximately 14-foot wide space, with cherry wood and glass appointments, seems larger than you’d guess, thanks to one arched exposed-brick wall, and a high coved ceiling.
How about if I tell you the beautifully crafted animals upfront are all wearing eyeglasses? Nope, we’re not at a quirky salon that features visually challenged wildlife – but we are at the one, the only Jeffrey’s Manhattan Eyeland, at 2391 Broadway, near 88th Street.
One section of wall space, by the way, is covered entirely by the many children who’ve been fitted with glasses here. Any place that inspires that kind of devotional offering by children whose eyesight was helped you know has got to be doing things right.
Optician and Eyeland owner Jeffrey Erber says of his 18 years of successfully operating as an indie that it’s all a matter of tailoring his services and wares to the needs of his clientele – just as a fine suit is tailored to a specific person.
When you deal with an independent, he says, “you’re dealing with people who are skilled in optics. We’re not mass marketers” – and thus can fine-tune to individual needs.
His selection, which encompasses everything from budget-friendly to high-end frames, is, he says, “eclectic” and eminently “wearable.”
Acknowledging the competition the Internet is giving traditional brick-and-mortars, Erber offers a startling value: a pair of frames plus anti-reflective lenses for $99. And the frames are an exceptionally good-looking lot. Standout: A skinny-rectangular model meant to sell for much more ($240 elsewhere) in a traditional tortoiseshell pattern in a very non-traditional purple, finely proportioned for a narrow face.
Bigger, bolder frames in a smoky tortoise-pattern plastic are packaged in a slightly higher priced deal. As dedicated followers of fashion know, this type of retro ‘50s-‘60s-look frame is, as Erber notes, “very in right now.”
At the higher end of the spectrum, there are the ever-popular Oliver Peoples frames, (approximately $300 to $400). For those who want to pull out all the stops, there are 22-karat-plated gold frames with telescoping temples, (yes, I call them handles, too, but now we know the correct word). Also very retro, Erber notes of these delicate oval frames; $950. If you’d like a thriftier version without the telescoping temples – fun to expand and contract as you wish – there is the titanium pair for $390 that comes in gold-tone or silver-tone finishes.
There are lots more high-end frames from about $500 to $1,000, by such names as Lafont, Airo, Barton Perreira and Alain Mikli partnered with Philippe Starck, (yes, the Starck of furniture design fame).
What you won’t find – because Erber knows his clientele – is look-at-me logos. Why? We say nay, that’s why.
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