The Eye Site of Virginia collaborated with a reclamation design company to create the coolest optical shop south of the Mason-Dixon line.

After meeting at The Ohio State University College of Optometry and graduating together in 2009, Julie Brown, OD, and Shannon Zollinger, OD, initially went their own ways to start their careers. The two friends, however, soon saw the opportunity to start their own business together and in early 2013 moved to southwestern Virginia, where they purchased an existing business, The Eye Site, in Collinsville, near the North Carolina border. About a year later they decided to do things differently, and that’s when Black Dog Salvage came in.

Created in 1999 as the inspiration of entrepreneurs Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp, the Roanoke, VA-based company specializes in the reclamation, repurposing and resale of architectural, commercial and industrial elements and fixtures. Salvaged materials include doors, windows, stained glass, wrought iron, vintage plumbing and hardware, as well as period lighting, art tile, garden statuary and antique store counters. Their show, Salvage Dawgs, has been airing on the DIY/HGTV network since 2012.

Something Old, Something Borrowed

In fall of 2014, The Eye Site contacted Black Dog Salvage for the chance to have their renovation recorded for an episode. With total access granted, the three-part filming schedule began in October. The project took a full four months to complete from design, the tearing down of a nearby barn, coordinating with Black Dog Salvage and final installation of the wood floors, dispensing tables and frame boards.

In the end, where there once was a staid, sanitary dispensary replete with generic office furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting was transformed into a hip, 21st-century optical with hardwood floors, frame boards and dispensing tables, all handcrafted by Black Dog Salvage. The reclaimed wood used as a wall mount for the frame boards came from two barns in nearby Bland, VA. It took two days to dismantle and collect enough usable timber from the barns to mount on the walls. The weathered wood was coupled with galvanized piping to give it an industrial-rustic look.

Meanwhile, the wood used for the four new dispensing tables was salvaged from a bourbon mill, and the legs for the dispensing tables feature salvaged Egyptian wrought iron.

Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. After an open house last year that attracted local media and featured kids activities and food catered by local companies, the word-of-mouth has really taken off. “Our shop fits the area completely as we are in a little bit of a rural setting,” said Brown. “Patients love the details and the involvement of BDS-a local celebrity business-with the project. Every employee in the practice had a helping hand in making this optical transformation a reality and we all take pride in this.”

Anthony Floreno is editor of Vision Care Venture.


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