Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Warby Parker showroom within Askov Finlayson boutique in the North Loop of Minneapolis
Warby Parker, the hip eyewear startup that shattered tradition by selling high-design prescription glasses direct to consumers for as little as $95, just opened a showroom within the newly expanded Askov Finlayson in the North Loop. That makes five showrooms and 13 stores for Warby Parker, with seven more to open by year’s end. The only brand with higher sales per square foot is Apple. Co-CEO and co-founder Dave Gilboa talks about why the tech company is investing heavily in good ol’ bricks and mortar.
Did you always plan to open physical stores?
Our original model was designed to eliminate the need for stores, creating a great experience online. We were blown away by the response. People started coming to my apartment to try on glasses! We learned so much that led to better design.
Why the North Loop?
Eric and Andrew (Dayton) do a really good job of curating great brands. We’re excited to partner with them in a great space.
Why not a stand-alone store for Minneapolis?
The best spots are tough to come by. We want to build a bigger presence in Minneapolis—it’s consistently one of our strongest markets.
And you’re Swedish, so you should feel right at home.
Yes! My girlfriend grew up in Minnetonka.
Does being a tech company give you a retail advantage?
Huge. We built our own technology platform. We can leverage that to enhance customer experience. We can track what glasses a customer has tried on online or in store, so you can order with one click from an e-mail.
Could stores end up being bigger than online?
Online is still the vast majority of our sales. But we don’t care if you shop in the store, by phone, or online. Customers don’t view the world as different channels. They think of us as Warby Parker, the brand. 204 N. 1st St., Mpls., warbyparker.com