Tag Archives: shopping

Glasses and Me

Six-Year-Old Me:

I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since I was six years old. My first frames were red. Red PLAID, that is.

Not my actual glasses, but close!

Adult Me:

As an adult, I’ve been careful when purchasing eyewear, in the hopes of not looking as dorky as I did in first grade. My last pair was trendy, a Warby Parker style in a dark blue color called “Beach Glass.” I paid $325 for them in 2019. Here’s an actual, unretouched photo of me in my glasses:

I see I’m still wearing plaid. Oh well.

By 2021, I realized my vision had changed, and so had my taste in frames. Maybe the pandemic changed me. All that dreary news, all those drab and dreary masks. I no longer want such dark frames. It was time to go shopping for glasses. Things went downhill from there.

Late 2021:

I found an eye doctor in my new town and went to see him. When I arrived, there were no cars in the parking lot. That should have been my first clue. Inside, the office looked run-down, there were no other patients waiting, and there was loud classic rock music playing somewhere down the hall. I considered leaving, but then out he came to greet me. He was an older gentleman who seemed a bit forgetful, but he was very nice. I went ahead with the exam and got a new prescription.

Early 2022:

I found frames I liked at Zenni.com (a company I’ve bought glasses from before) and ordered them online. They were really cute: pink, cranberry, and black in a tortoiseshell pattern. Best of all, they only cost $126, including progressive (no-line bifocal) lenses and non-glare coating!

Pink and black … uh-oh. Maybe I’m stuck in the 50s.


I received my Zenni glasses. The prescription seemed off, so I returned them. Zenni inspected them and discovered a manufacturing error. They remade them for me free of charge and sent me another pair … but those were even worse. I couldn’t read the TV screen; I couldn’t even read street signs while driving. I returned this second pair of Zennis. They were inspected as well, and Zenni commendably admitted they’d made another error, just a slight one this time, but enough to earn me a full store credit. I haven’t used it yet. Don’t know if I ever will.

Summer 2022:

I had another eye exam, and my vision had by now changed again. With my new prescription in hand, I decided to take a chance on the optician playing the loud classic rock music in the other half of the office. Boy, I don’t know how to take a hint, do I. When I picked up my new Kate Spades, a right-wing talk show spouting conspiracy theories, instead of classic rock music, was booming out of the guy’s radio. I paid for the glasses ($450) and vowed never to return again.

I had to return again, though, because although I could read street signs off in the distance, I couldn’t read anything else .

Fall, 2022:

It was second opinion time. I saw a new eye doctor, who really seemed on the ball. She said she’d corrected my vision to 20/15 (the best it’s ever been), and I could tell when I looked through her equipment that it was true. The new prescription was a far cry from the one I’d gotten only a few months earlier. Finally, I was getting somewhere! At least, that’s what I thought.

Because now, I needed to find a pair of well-made, affordable glasses. I decided to visit the optician who was part of her practice. Almost immediately, I fell in love with a pair of stylish rose/mauve frames that looked great on me.

The friendly, talkative optician couldn’t  have agreed more as she cheerfully worked up my price quote: with lenses, $832, plus tax.

I. Don’t. Think. So.

I went home without ordering, wondering how a pair of glasses could cost that much. When I started looking into it, I learned that, according to Forbes, The Guardian, the L.A. Times, and other news outlets, there’s been something close to a monopoly in the eyeglass industry for years, and it’s run by a company called Luxottica. And Luxottica actually seems proud of their “vertically integrated business model” that allows them to market their brands through LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Target, etc. Not quite a pyramid scheme, but almost.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“Luxottica is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Its portfolio includes proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette, Costa del Mar and Alain Mikli, as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Versace. … One of the Group’s competitive advantages is the vertically integrated business model built over the years, covering the entire value chain: design, product development, manufacturing, logistics and distribution.”

Yep. The eyeglass industry seems to have gone the way of Big Pharma. Since they control distribution, they’re free to charge the consumer whatever they can get away with.

November, 2022:

I’ve been trying to find out if I have insurance coverage for glasses. (I don’t, but after NINE phone calls between various optical companies, my insurance benefits office, and a company called Eye-Med, I’ve discovered that I’m eligible for a discount program with Eye-Med that I have to pay for in order to get the discount. And the information on their website is so confusing that I still don’t know how much that discount is.

I’ve gone back to wearing my three-year old glasses for now. I’ll probably try to find a pair on Warby Parker that I like. I just can’t see spending over $800 on a pair of glasses when my prescription changes about once a year.

How much are YOU willing to pay for a pair of good quality eyeglasses?

This is post #3 in this year’s #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”


Fewer Presents, More Presence

I knew I was old when my daughter called me last night and said she won’t be exchanging any Christmas presents this year, “except for the kids.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Ahh … that’s finally over with,” I thought, supremely thankful that she’d had the grace to announce her intentions on the day before Black Friday, before I’d started my Christmas shopping.

I love my daughters, but trying to guess what gifts would bring them pleasure, frantically wrapping said gifts, cramming them into shipping boxes, standing in long lines at the post office, and paying extra just so they’d arrive by December 25 was something I wouldn’t miss (especially since I usually don’t begin the process until December 15).

And I knew they were probably struggling with the same ordeal: buying (or in many cases making), wrapping, and mailing their usual abundance of gifts, all with tight schedules and limited budgets.

For years, I dutifully trudged in and out of stores searching for the perfect gifts that I imagined would make my daughters’ eyes light up with glee. I baked cookies, knit scarves, and framed my own photos for them. I then graduated to letting someone else make the gifts by shopping at Etsy. It was fun and festive for a few days, and then it quickly became a disheartening matter of settling for things I wasn’t sure they’d even like.


How they probably looked after opening presents from me.

As bad as that sounds, for the past couple of years our family has hit a new low: the Amazon Gift List, which basically boils down to the following interaction:

Recipient: “I want all of these things on my Gift List! You can buy them right now! It’s so convenient! I’m only telling you this to make your life easier!”

Me: “But these things are not at all unique! Don’t you trust me to buy you something wonderful?”

Recipient: “No comment. And now look: I’ve added even more things to my Gift List!”

Me: “Well … but it seems so impersonal … I don’t know …”

Amazon: “Don’t worry, there’s free shipping! Would you like a gift card with that?”

Me: (Sigh) “Sure.”

(Just kidding. My family isn’t really like that.)

My daughter’s current sentiments (seconded by my other daughter, my stepdaughter, and my husband) have finally allowed me to enjoy the holidays. Yes, I’ll still go a little crazy trying to come up with fun, exciting, and educational gifts for the three young ones in our family (books are always a good choice) but now I’ll actually be able to focus on fewer gifts for a change. Maybe I’ll make some by hand. I could even use my savings to make a donation to a worthy cause.

This is even more appealing when I think of how much I hate shopping. It wasn’t always so. I actually enjoyed shopping once upon a time, when I was about 15 years old. Department stores had fancy window displays and heavy revolving doors. When you pushed your way through them, you entered into a calm, orderly world of carpeted floors, gliding elevators, and the subtle fragrance of expensive perfume.

In high school, I’d ride the city bus downtown to the prestigious Sibley’s to do a little window shopping. The clothes sold at Sibley’s were well-made, and hence, I usually couldn’t afford them (but I liked trying them on). Then I’d head across the street to McCurdy’s basement in search of a bargain.


How I felt while shopping at Sibley’s.


How I actually looked.

Finally, I’d have lunch or a snack upstairs at McCurdy’s classy yet affordable restaurant, which made me feel pampered and rich again. Sometimes I’d meet a friend there. Shopping was a social event in my youth. Now it’s an agonizing ordeal for me, at best.

This year, there will be fewer presents to go around, but perhaps greater presence of mind, and more time to reflect on other gifts — such as peace, good will, charity, and light — all of which are celebrated around the world in December. There will always be other opportunities to buy things and mail them off when the urge hits me. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it right now.