Fittingly for a city with more than 60 colleges, Warby Parker’s new Boston shop draws inspiration from great American libraries. “The space is filled with natural light and furnished with custom brass library lamps,” explains Neil Blumenthal, the brand’s co-founder and co-CEO. “We want our customers to explore the store like they’d browse for books.” And, since “nothing goes with glasses quite like a good novel,” the space offers a selection of books from the company’s favorite independent presses, like McSweeney’s and Ugly Duckling, in addition to its full collection of eyeglasses and sunglasses.
Within a few years, Warby Parker has made a name for itself by offering attractive eyewear at an attractive price. But for the company, being good is just as important as looking good. Since its launch in 2010, philanthropy has been a cornerstone of its business. For every pair of glasses sold, a pair is donated to someone in need; it’s also working with nonprofits to train people to sell affordable eyewear, helping them become self-supporting entrepreneurs.
The store is only Warby Parker’s second standalone retail outlet (its first is in New York City). “We’ve had our eye on Boston for a long time,” Blumenthal reports. “I went to Tufts for undergrad, so I remember how much fun it was to escape campus and hang out in a real city.” He feels that, much like the company, residents exude a positive, forward-looking attitude. “The city has an optimistic energy to it,” he says. When asked about whether Warby Parker is a Red Sox or Yankees brand, the businessman wisely refrains from taking sides. But he adds, “I think any view of Big Papi could be improved with the right prescription.”
83 Newbury Street