ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Eyecity.com (a.k.a. Peepers) forms business plan for 21st century

Not every business holds a grand opening nine months after closing its last retail store. However, that's what eyecity.com, also known as peepers.com, did at its new outlet at1203 London Road across from the Rose Garden this week.

Not every business holds a grand opening nine months after closing its last retail store. However, that's what eyecity.com, also known as peepers.com, did at its new outlet at1203 London Road across from the Rose Garden this week.
Eyecity was able to resurrect itself on the retail end because it never died on the Internet. The company, started as peepers.com in 1995 by Dan Thralow, claimed $3.6 million in 1999 sales, and continues to gain a niche in the $55 billion eyeware market. It has 35 employees operating out of its London Road facility, most of them on the Internet side of the business.
Thralow sold the business to New York-based eyecity.com last year, but continues to act as a consultant. The company announced June 1 that its $850,000 note to Thralow was extended to May 23, 2002, with interest of 7 percent.
Where once it was a sunglass shop, today it not only sells every form of eyeware imaginable from shades to prescription lenses,contacts, binoculars, telescopes and spotting glasses, but its new business model also includes business-to-business and business-to-business-to-consumer activity. Not only does the company sell eyeware to consumers, but it also sells to ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians (the three Os). What's more, it offers Web page development and maintenance and financial management expertise to the three Os as well.
Bill Armenakis, vice president of operations, said, "Where doctors had to carry a huge supply of inventory, they don't have to anymore. We offer one billing option and can house all of their inventory."
On the consumer side, the company now operates under eight different Web pages itself. Its binoculars.com Web page just opened last week. In addition, Internet customers can examine and purchase its products through the following Web sites: eyecity.com, peepers.com, sunglasssite.com, eyeglassplace.com, opticaldepot.com, abeam.com, opticalsite.com. Chris Vail, sales director, said, "If it has something to do with your eyes, it's in there."
Eyecity also has established links through yahoo.com and go.com so if a person uses those search engines to look for sunglasses, it takes them to eyecity.
While eyecity has a New York base, it likes its Duluth operation, Armenakis said, because of its central location, "We can ship a package anywhere in the country within two days," he said, adding that with Federal Express' help, it can also ship a package anywhere in the world within seven days.
On an average day, the company sends out 120 to 150 packages, but has shipped as many as 500.
Although some think of the Internet as impersonal, eyecity's best customer is a doctor in New Jersey who has purchased more than 20 pairs of glasses -- and the doctor will work only with customer service phone representative Jason Dhaemers.
Jason Mulek, director of customer services, says eyecity takes pride in its customer service efforts. "We promise an answer from an e-mail by a live person (as opposed to a computer-generated response) within 24 hours," he said.
The company's phones are monitored from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. It's retail store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The company's stock, which has traded since 1998 over the counter under the symbol ICTY, was at 82 cents a share Thursday.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.