Deepak Oberai is the owner of Albert Road Opticians, a beautiful converted Edwardian house in Wilmslow. Eyestylist asked him about the store, which has an original setting and exquisite mix of eyewear collections.
When did you first open and can you tell me about how you had imagined your store initially? Albert Road Opticians is set in a house that has a lot of character. When we first opened, I was aware of the potential but did not maximise this. However after an impromptu climb of Mt Kilimanjaro, I decided I wanted us to be ‘The House of Spectacles’. So I decided to take it back to the original features (fire places, picture rails) and treat people as if they are coming over to your house, with a lovely cup of tea! This was a game changer for us.
You are working with very creative brands like theo from Belgium? How is it going, and is there a greater interest for statement design? What have your experiences been so far? Theo is my personal favourite. Initially when we introduced this at Albert Road Opticians we did not know how to approach the bolder design conversation. However, as with anything, practice makes perfect and we are now known for brighter, bolder designs in our local community. Our clients who have bought this eyewear may have been reluctant initially, but as soon as they get a compliment from a stranger (and this happens), they turn into raving fans. It’s incredible to see such joy on people’s faces.
Tell us about the design of the shop and who worked with you on it.
The shop and its unique quirky features lend to the building we are in perfectly. We worked with Sheffield based interior design company 93ft (https://93ft.com) and they really know how to push the boat. The style chosen was reclaimed furniture with a modern twist. The dark colours compliment the handmade cupboards perfectly and the reclaimed flooring brings the design together.
How much do you change your selection of frames – do you stick with old favourites or add newcomers if you find them in the shows? We attend international optical shows regularly to see what is up and coming. When we see something exciting we like to build relationships with that brand and see if they are a good fit for us. Generally we only take one new brand a year if we really like it. However working with innovative brands like Theo or Anne & Valentin, their new collection releases can almost feel like a different brand so that helps keep things fresh.
You have clearly gone out of your way to provide a really special service. Tell us about this and where your priorities lie. Coming to Albert Road is like visiting a good friend. The atmosphere is relaxed; we want people to feel they are in a non-clinical environment. As the building has several rooms, we have renamed the front room, and we call it our ‘Tea Room’. This is where we offer drinks, a bit like a hotel. It the scene for the rest of the show.
Our eye examinations are longer than the average 45 minutes. This allows us to get to know our clients better from a personal perspective. This slow, personal approach means we can highlight opportunities for multiple pair purchases, in the future, where necessary. The eyewear is presented in the ‘Eyewear Gallery’ with a few frames on show, and others hidden in drawers. We like to style people, and this subtle approach of introducing quirky eyewear works very well. Most of all we want our clients to be happy. We always say ‘Our reputation walks around on your face’ and we want this to be spectacular. This friendly relaxed approach has won us many fans.
This January, a second shop – Station Road Optician – has opened in Cheadle Hulme. 18 Albert Road, Wilmslow – plan your visit at www.wilmslowopticians.co.uk CN