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Where to Buy Glasses Online

Okay, I know, where to buy glasses online doesn't seem like an obvious Buddhist blog post. But with my trusty Moscots nearing the end of their useful less, I started thinking "there must be some cheap or discount eyeglass options, rather than spending $300+ for an ounce of plastic and another $80 for an eye exam." I looked online to see if there were glasses available - and boy are there - mostly shlocky, cheap looking stuff in the $40 to $50 range.  Then I stumbled on Warby Parker.

Warby Parker. They had me at hello.  All the frames are beautiful and designed exclusively by and for their site, they all include anti-glare polycarbonate lenses, and they're almost all $95. Total. Including the frames and lenses. Not $300 or $400, but $95.

But it got even better. Featured on the homepage was a pair of lovely pink eyeglasses , every purchase of which include Warby Parker making a $50 donation to the Susan Komen for the Cure foundation for breast cancer research.

Okay, that's kind of awesome, my hippie little brain thought, so just who are these Warby Parker folks? My own cultural associate with Warby Parker was bringing up faint whiffs of beat poets and Jack Kerouac's journals, but no way could they be that cool. Oh but they are that cool. Founded by four Wharton business students, "Warby Parker" is in fact a reference to two characters from Kerouac's earliest writings, because the founding fathers have "always been inspired by the master wordsmith and pop culture icon, Mr. Jack Kerouac".  Um, do you guys want to go for a coffee? Maybe come meditate with us here at the IDP?

And this from "Our Story" - 

"Prescription eyewear simply should not cost $300+. The industry is controlled by a few large companies that have kept prices artificially high, reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options. By circumventing traditional channels and engaging with our customers directly through our website, Warby Parker is able to provide higher-quality, better looking prescription eyewear for under $100."

Circumventing traditional channels? Artificially high prices controlled by a handful of mega corporations? Engaging with our customers directly? Warby Parker is basically the direct-to-customer boutique farmer's market of eyeglass retailers.

And then it got better - so good that my eyes nearly fell out of my head, which would have circumvented my need for glasses entirely.  Every time you buy a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, they donate a pair of glasses to one of the 500 million people in the world who do not have access to proper vision care, by working directly with Restoring Vision.  

So let me get this straight - not only do I get to buy a pair of great looking, high quality eyeglasses for under $100, but someone else who REALLY needs a pair of eyeglasses will get them as well? Uh-huh, that's right.  And there's more: Shipping the try-ons: free. Shipping your finished glasses: free. Shipping back returns if you're not 100% satisfied: free (including a full refund if they can't make you totally happy).

But none of this matters if you don't love the eyeglasses themselves, and it's easy to forget with all the back office awesomeness that Warby Parker makes enough top notch frames that anyone with an appreciation for design will be able to find something satisfying. Shoot, they even sell a monocle for fifty bucks.  Not sure which ones you want? Upload a photo for the virtual try-on, or ask them to send you up to five frames (for free) to try on at home (if you live in NYC or LA you can swing by the showroom, but the other options work equally well).  

All you need is an eye exam to enter your details in the online order form, and in the NY metro area (and I assume in the rest of the country) there's always some mega chain like Cohen's, Pearle, or wherever running a deal for $30 exams. You just upload your prescription, order your glasses, and in about five days they show up in a sweet little eyeglass case.  Mine were perfect (I got the Japhy Whisky Tortoise, if you must know).

I've never used my space here to write a product review before, but everything about my experience with Warby-Parker was so pleasant, so steeped with an attitude of service, compassion, charity, beauty, respect, and - dare I say it - an appreciation of interdependence - that I can't help but say this:

If you need a new pair of quality eyeglasses, and you appreciate good design, compassionate business, and a direct customer-to-owner experience, and you want to spend less than $100 for the frames and lenses - well, if you're not buying them from Warby Parker, you don't just need an eye exam, you need to have your head checked.

- Jerry Kolber

p.s. in case you're wondering, this is not a paid advertisement, and I paid full price for my frames. Warby Parker is just that terrific, the perfect model of a socially engaged internet retailer.

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Comments

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Thank you!

This is just what I needed today. Thanks for writing up this blog! Extremely useful for me....

this is so cool

Pretty awesome when you hear about people actually getting it... and making a difference for others... i am ordering mine post-haste.

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You'd look great in a monocle, Jerry!

thanks Kim

I thought about it but I think I'd have to squint my other all the time.or I could wear a double monocle.

Annoying entry.

Annoying entry.

thanks!

thanks for reading and your po-mo comment.

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