When you think of an optometry office and professional eyewear shop, what’s the first thing you picture? Odds are it’s not an eclectic, retro, high-on-style, low-on-formality storefront that looks like something from the pages of Elle Decor magazine.
And yet, that describes Andover Eye Care to a T. Housed in what used to be a neighborhood pub (Dylan’s Bar & Grill), the Park Street space was completely reinvented by owner Todd Berberian when he moved in less than a year ago—and in so doing, he also may have reinvented what an eyewear business should be.
Case in point: Berberian’s office. Sitting at a stainless steel table next to a reclaimed wood table decked out with gas pipes and a gargantuan antique mirror, he’s surrounded by street art, yet an impeccable Oriental rug sprawls across the floor.
“When we moved here from our old space—tucked into the back of a parking lot across town—I wanted to brand myself within the store,” he explains. That certainly makes sense. After all, if eyewear is one of our most personal accessories, and accessories help define style, then an eyewear company needs a stylish figurehead, no?
“If you know me, you know I march to my own drum in what I think is a tasteful way. I’m all about classic New England with a modern twist. Nothing too busy, but nothing boring. Just classic [style together] with [something] new, interesting, and unexpected. I love the mix in my office, and the rest of the store—including décor and glasses and service—should reflect that.”
That much is clear even before entering the place. Before opening, Berberian found beautiful gas lamps, which he hung along the storefront and keeps lit all day and night. Inside, they gutted the entire space with the exception of one wall, which had been the old bar back. The store’s reception desk is the old bar top, the bottom of which they’ve rebuilt. Berberian designed separate tables to resemble old bars and paired them with Kartel’s clear plastic Ghost Chairs to create a chic spot where customers try on frames. The entire composition can only be described as modern Paris meets old London meets rustic Vermont meets Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
It’s a pretty slick space in which to showcase Berberian’s talent. After 20 years of framing and fitting people for glasses, he has denounced what he calls “the perfume brands,” meaning, you won’t find any Prada, Chanel, or Versace frames in his collection. “They’re all made by the same company and licensed by the designer brands, and they’re the same thing but with different labels,” he explains. “We deal with people who design with quality in mind, not just a label.”
“People are either all about the cheap and fast element of fashion and lifestyle brands right now, or they’re about quality and longevity,” he adds. “My grandmother used to say: ‘Buy right and buy once.’” Berberian looks to cutting-edge technology to ensure that kind of longevity.
Like him, the store optometrist, Dr. Charlene Glynn, appreciates technological advances. “Her equipment is amazing,” says Berberian. “She has a machine that takes a photo of the back of your eye, so you don’t even have to be dilated.” Like the rest of the store, her workspace is a cool combination of contemporary and throwback elements. The lab’s floor-to-ceiling glass walls and subway tiles give it chic character.
Over the years, Berberian has become quite skilled at designing, making, and selling his own eyewear. His signature line, Todd Rogers, is available in-store, online, and in many other like-minded, forward-thinking eyewear shops across America and Canada. (His glasses have even been spotted on numerous Hollywood actors.)
“I love seeing that and receiving huge kudos from our new customers in our new space,” he says. “Our visibility now is astounding. And I’m so excited to keep growing. [However], we’re not a numbers game. We want you to come in, and we want to get to know you.”