While everyone's been focused on Warby Parker's arrival on the Chicago eyewear scene, the brand Spex—voted “Best Eyewear 2014” by the Chicago Reader—has been quietly plotting their citywide domination for years.
The brand has 23 locations throughout the Chicagoland area, and they're not stopping there. Spex is planning to open a twenty-fourth location in Old Town by February 2, according to Lauren Pappas, Spex's Marketing Services Coordinator. The newest location will be at 1212 North Wells Street, in the heart of Old Town's shopping district. Additionally, a twenty-fifth location will be opening in Lake Forest at an as-yet-undetermined date.
There are a few reasons why Spex has been so popular in Chicago. Each store keeps licensed opticians on site to help with the elusive hunt for the perfect lens; they give back to the community by partnering with local philanthropic organizations like Little City Foundation and By the Hand Club for Kids; and to top it all off, Spex stores' eyewear styles vary based on their locations. That is, stores have the freedom to stock styles based on what they believe that specific community will want to buy.
This is why you'll find Oliver People specs in at Spex in Lincoln Square and Wicker Park but not in Naperville, and why you can get Tom Ford glasses at more than half of their locations (he's just that hip). No word yet on what sorts of Old Town-friendly brands the newest location will stock, but our bet's on a lot of Giorgio Armani.