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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Circles and Customer Service: Brookings Total Eyewear Makes Me Happy

I make life difficult for opticians. When I buy glasses, I ask for circular frames. The gals (always gals—I don't think I have ever been waited on by a fella in an eyeglasses shop) invariably first show me something with rounded edges—ovals, blobs, what-have-you—thinking that's what I want. I invariably have to reiterate: "No, really, I want circles. Perfect circles. Same dimensions in all three directions: 48, 48, 48." We then turn to the catalog to track down the one or two out of thousands of designs that satisfy my criteria.

I've tried non-circular glasses twice in my 24 years of four-eyedness. Those inferior frames, including my current close-but-not-quite eggy frames, have never lasted, never made me happy. I tried the frameless, ultra-light "Silhouette" glasses—no frame means you can shape the lens any way you want—but the one spendy pair I bought broke after hardly a year of use. Plus they wouldn't stay on in a stiff wind in the Jeep.

So I keep looking for perfectly circular (and durable, and affordable) frames. I generally meet with apologies, shrugs, and the perfectly rational explanation that circular lenses can spin within the frames, turn your prescription upside down, and make your head go woogly. (I've had this happen: I recommend adding a tiny notch in the lens at the screw post. Problem solved, and everyone could look funkier.)

I am thus pleased to acknowledge the exceptional customer service effort of JoAnne at Total Eyewear in Brookings. I tromped into her shop last winter in the midst of a brewing snowstorm. Looking every bit the wild-eyed Arctic adventurer with my backpack, boots, and bushy beard, I made my usual frames query, and JoAnne and her amused staff offered the usual "Sorry!" Nothing in stock. But JoAnne took my number and said she'd keep an eye out.

my new old spectaclesThe spectacles JoAnne found for me, plus the old case that came with the black pair. Attention, all opticians: these are what I want.
In August, JoAnne called. She was browsing a second-hand shop in Canby, Minnesota, when she found not one but two pairs of antique spectacles. She got out her ruler to measure the lenses and found them perfectly circular. She bought them both and said she'd sell them back to me at cost, all of $15.

I dropped by Total Eyewear yesterday to pick them up. I gave JoAnne $20.

JoAnne doesn't know me from anything other than my chance visit to her shop last winter. She stood to make no money on this odd request. But she still remembered and made the effort to find exactly what this cranky, choosy customer wanted. I am impressed and grateful...

...and more than happy to recommend JoAnne's shop. If you need glasses and you're within shouting distance of Brookings, drop by Total Eyewear in Brookings, on 22nd Avenue South, by the University Mall. 605-692-8262.
Bonus Irony: The full name of the woman who remembered that I wanted perfect circles, not just something round? JoAnne Ovall.


  1. Well, Cory, we share at least two preferences: spectacles configuation and universal health care.

  2. Nice. I had the same trouble finding circular glasses. Then at some point round spectacles stopped being Harold Lloyd glasses and became Harry Potter glasses and I decided that I had enough troubles being known as that guy who wears the Indiana Jones hat and went with something more mid-century.


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