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Warby Parker opens Retail Store in Baltimore

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Warby Parker, the most widely recognized online glasses company, has opened a retail location in Baltimore.  Warby Parker Baltimore is located in Harbor East.  A somewhat unsurprising move as the company is clearly trying to target young urban professionals (aka yuppies) and hipsters in the trendy and newly built Harbor East and Canton neighborhoods.   If they wanted to target hipsters and yuppies why not Hampden? 🙂

When looking for a neighborhood to settle in, I was informed that Warby Parker couldn’t resist the charm of Harbor East. For those that don't know Harbor East is east of the historic Inner Harbor and adjacent to Fell’s Point, and located along the beautiful Baltimore waterfront.  (For the record I would never describe Baltimore water as beautiful.)

Warby Parker believes Harbor East is a vibrant and bustling area—and full of a wonderful restaurants and other retailers.  More importantly residents that will likely buy Warby Parker glasses. They don't mind that Camden Yards isn’t far as well.

“We’re incredibly excited to be opening our doors in a city with so much historical heft and literary history. We look forward to exploring the town’s landmarks, reading Baltimore authors, getting to know our future neighbors, and increasing our companywide crab consumption by at least 500%,” said Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker.

Blumenthal is of course referring to esteemed literary authors Edgar Allan Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald who both lived in Baltimore. The 500% refers to Warby Parker employees being happy to eat Maryland Blue Crabs, something Baltimore is well known for.  Of course most people from Baltimore and Maryland know that you don't eat Blue Crabs “500%” more.  These days Maryland Crabs are expensive and something you only do once in awhile.  If you founded a glasses company… perhaps you could have crabs a lot.

Other aspects Warby Parker likes about Baltimore is that there are more historical landmarks per capita in the U.S. than any other city. I'm sure Warby Parker employees love checking out the original Washington Monument. (If you haven't seen this you probably should go Google it right now. Yes, it's real. Yup, you can laugh.)  Baltimore's Washington Monument was built before the one in Washington D.C. in case you didn't know.

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Back to the Warby Parker Baltimore store.  When customers first enter they’ll be greeted by the illustrated “Reading Positions” wallpaper which was created by the company's in-house creative team.  The wallpaper features a variety of sketches showing the best way to hunker down and enjoy a good book. The interior of the store takes cues from a classic library, elegantly displaying books, brass library lamps, and terrazzo flooring—and Warby Parker's entire collection of glasses housed on dark-walnut library shelves. You will also find exclusive artwork by illustrator and animator Otto Steininger.  His work has appeared in The New Yorker and many other publications over the years.

In the Warby Parker Baltimore store you can visit the Reference Desk, which handles pickups, adjustments, and more. Warby Parker will have employees and advisors on hand to suggest flattering frames for your facial shape.

If needed an optometrist is available for eye exams but remember appointments must be booked online in advance. Customers can check out with Warby Parker advisors on tablets using a custom-built Point of Sale (POS) system that Warby Parker calls Point of Everything (POE). Prescription glasses are shipped within days, while sunwear, optical frames with non-prescription lenses, and books are available for immediate purchase. Isn't instant gratification always good?

As with many Warby Parker retail locations the store at Harbor East features a reading nook. Do people really want to go read in a Warby Parker store?  The store also has a selection of books for sale from some of the company's favorite independent publishers.  You can also buy the Warby Parker book published by Hachette Books, “50 Ways to Lose Your Glasses‘.  The book is a homage to the all-too-relatable predicament of misplacing or mishandling a beloved pair of frames.  The idea for Warby Parker came from when David Giloba, one of the co-founders, broke his eyeglasses on a trip.

In honor of the Warby Parker Baltimore store opening the online glasses chain has decided to release limited edition sunglasses.  Jackson in Crystal which is an adaptable, easy-to-wear pairs of sunglasses.  You can get the Jackson frames in blue mirrored lenses with a custom lens pouch for a limited time in the Baltimore store.

Retail Competition

Warby Parker is not the only online eyeglasses store making moves from digital to retail storefronts. Earlier this year we saw that FetchEyewear opened a flagship store in Portland. FetchEyewear was available in optical stores across the country but didn't have a physical storefront headquarters before.  The new flagship headquarters is meant to offer a new experience and catapult their current operations.

Bonlook opened a retail location at the Fairview Point Claire shopping mall.  This is Bonlook's first store in a shopping mall and the Canadian company has two other retail locations bringing it's total to three.  The company has an impressive Virtual Try-On feature you can use with a webcam.

Warby Parker's retail growth has been impressive and they seem to want to continue opening up optical retail stores. They are trying to fill the gap of customers who still want the personal and physical experience of trying on glasses. Last year Warby Parker opened up a location in Georgetown and the company has another location in Washington DC.  Along with the new Baltimore retail location they have another new location in Newport Beach, California.

It's clear Warby Parker does not just want to compete in the online space but go against Luxottica with retail stores.  Luxottica owns LensCrafters, PearleVision, and controls a large majority of the retail glasses market in the US and abroad. One of the reasons glasses are so expensive.

It's nice to see that riots do not deter new businesses from opening up in Baltimore. Espicially ones that hipsters and yuppies will eat up like Kale. What do OpticalOwl readers think about Warby Parker Baltimore?  Will you shop there and buy prescription glasses and sunglasses?

Warby Parker Baltimore

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ADDRESS

Warby Parker Harbor East

807 Aliceanna Street

Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 443.552.7015

HOURS

Monday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.

Sunday, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

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