It’s unusual to have three opticians under one roof, but that’s what you will find at The Eye Opener in Corunna. Mark Hodgins opened the business in 1979 on Lyndock Street and by the early eighties, moved to 219 Hill Street, where they remain today. Then his son Jason and daughter-in-law Kate joined the business. “While we’ve always had part-time staff, it’s truly a family business. My grandfather worked here for ten years after he retired from his career and my sisters and I worked here when we were in high school,” says Jason Hodgins. He and his wife, Kate, met in school and graduated from Georgian College in 2010. “Our education was a little different from my Dad’s. He travelled and completed his through correspondence, while we had a traditional education. He would be in California, for example, and they would ask him to complete his exams at a nearby college.”
The team understands the advantage of completing all the work in-house. “You get to use your hands on the mechanical side while running the equipment. You get to crunch numbers and do math with the prescriptions. I love those parts, but I’m also super excited about new fashion. I love it when the new frames come in.” Every single frame in the shop is hand-picked by Hodgins. “We really enjoy helping customers pick that perfect frame. I enjoy the challenge of making their lenses cosmetically appealing, even with a strong prescription.” Having an on-site lab makes this all possible. “My Dad established the lab really early on and that really sets us apart.” The lab also allows them to do on-site repairs for customers.
Creating someone’s prescription lenses is an art. “You want to keep them as thin and as light as possible. Having the knowledge to do this in your own location makes it that much easier to work out front.” Staff help customers pick out the right frames for their face shape and style. “If we aren’t sure if their prescription will work for those particular glasses, we can run to the back and work out the numbers. If it won’t work, we can steer them in another direction, so we can get them in the best possible fit.” Along with the three full time opticians, “Margy has worked for us for seventeen years. She not only ensures the lab runs smoothly, she can also jump out front to help our clients find the perfect frame. She’s been here for long enough that she knows most aspects of the business and is practically family as well.”
Loyal, repeat customers provide much of the shop’s marketing, through word-of-mouth. “We just had someone in from Edmonton. She recently moved here and her son said this was the place to go. We really appreciate the support from our customers.” It’s a bit of a reunion each year, too. “You see these customers every year. My Dad started dealing with them when they were young and now we are fitting their kids with glasses.”
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In May of 2017, the first edition of Year of Local was released. They are available for purchase at The Book Keeper. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the local Sarnia-Lambton charities featured in the book.