A LOOK AT NORTHERN VALLEY EYECARE

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WINDOW SHOPPING Marcolin Tom Ford display
DRIVE BY TUSCANY EYEWEAR Porsche Design and REM John Varvatos
CENTER STAGE Oakley suns

Nearly four decades ago, Rich Hogg and Alan Ross, OD, went into business together, opening Northern Valley Eyecare, in Closter, NJ. Currently in their third—and best—location, they carry both ophthalmics and sunwear, but say that suns make up the fastest-growing component of their business. Here, Hogg gives VCPN an inside look at Northern Valley Eyecare.

VCPN: Tell us about your location and your clientele.
Rich Hogg: Closter is an upscale community that is right on the outskirts of Alpine, one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. We get a mixture of old and new business at our shop. We have a lot of people who have been here for a long time, including those who were our patients when we opened. We see women whom we had fitted with their first pair of glasses come in with their daughters for their first pairs! It’s been almost completely a referral business, and we have an optometrist next door.

VCPN: How do you decide what goes where?
Rich: With the first store, we kind of put it together on a wing and a prayer. We didn’t have much money, and we were just starting out in a pretty tiny location. Then when we moved, we put more thought into it. And this time, we sat down with a designer and we arranged the whole thing. We had help from Eye Designs (interior design firm specializing in eyewear.) We went to their corporate office in Pennsylvania and looked at the displays they made. The owner put together a very nice plan for us and it has worked out well.

VCPN: When people come in looking for sunglasses, do they know what they’re looking for?
Rich: A lot of people come in with a brand in mind or something they’ve seen in a magazine. We deal with so many companies that we have access to almost everything. We’re selling a lot of large, wraparound plastic frames—the real, chunky plastic ones. A lot of the bright, funky colors now are very popular, too.

VCPN: How do you make sunglasses stand out at your location?
Rich: This new store has all windows in the front, and we have a whole wall of sunglasses. Plus, we have self-contained displays for Oakley, Inc., Maui Jim, Kaenon, and Tom Ford (Marcolin USA). They are all visible from the window.

VCPN: Does most of your sunglasses business come from people who are coming in for other eyewear?
Rich: Up until recently, yes. We’ve been in this new location now for a little over three years, and we’re much more visible in this spot. We’re getting a lot of people who didn’t even know we were in town, coming in and remarking on how nice the store is. We’re getting more walk-in traffic here.

VCPN: Do current fashion trends affect your sunglass inventory?
Rich: I think they do. It’s not that I go out and observe what’s fashionable in clothing and accessories! We just see reps so often that we just constantly turn over our stock to keep it current.

VCPN: Do you do any outreach or events within the community?
Rich: Occasionally, we do sales where a percentage of them go to a certain charity. We’ve done that with Autism Speaks, and we’re looking to do it with breast cancer awareness, too. It’s usually a Saturday, and from whatever we take in, generally 10% of the gross goes to that charity.

Rachel Bozek is a writer and editor who includes the optical field as one of her areas of expertise.

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