April 7, 2008

Pearle Vision in Regency Mall closing

Pearle Vision in Regency Mall is closing on April 16, according to a store employee.

The store is owned by Luxottica Group, which operates Pearle Vision, Lenscrafters, Sun Glasses Hut, among other businesses. It used to be D.O.C. Optics, which was known for its high-end eyewear.

Luxottica, based in Milan, Italy, bought D.O.C. Optics in 2006 for $90 million. The chain had 100 stores in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and Florida.

The move isn't a surprise. Regency Mall already has a Lenscrafters in the mall, and a Pearle Vision outside of the mall, said Ken Brown, the manager of the D.O.C. store in the mall from 1990-2000.

While at D.O.C., Brown offered alternative eyewear products from what larger chains offered. He's trying to do the same at his new store, EyeOpenerZ in Downtown Racine.

"You try to carry the opposite of what" the chains offer, he said.

Luxottica is the largest eye frame manufacturer in the world, and is Italy's largest business. It operates most popular brands of eyewear, including the recently purchased Oakley line.

Brown said he had nothing against Luxottica, though added: "It does seem like they're getting awfully huge."

Brown, who is an optician, left D.O.C. in 2000 after his five-year franchise agreement ran out. He worked as a wholesaler and consultant until opening EyeOpenerZ in Brookfield three years ago. He later closed that store and reopened in Downtown Racine at 334 Main St.

Dr. Synda Johnson, an optometrist, also works at EyeOpenerZ.

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