Cheap glasses in Ottawa?
February 8, 2009 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find cheap eyeglasses in or near Ottawa, Ontario?

A friend wants bargain-basement specs to keep in the car. He's wanting to buy them in person rather than on-line.

I have a hazy memory of driving past a storefront on Merivale Road a few years ago with big window signs re. cheap glasses; this memory may or may not be accurate, and the store may or may not still be there. Somewhere in the vicinity of the Petsmart, I think. Maybe you know what I'm talking about?

Any other suggestions gratefully received -- I wear glasses myself but the only places I've bought them here are Lenscrafters -- shamefully overpriced -- and Costco, and Costco's a good deal but I'm wondering if there's even cheaper out there.
posted by kmennie to Shopping (8 answers total)
A while back Mathowie posted a nice article on his adventures with cheap eyeglasses here, it's pretty comprehensive. I've heard mixed results about ClearlyContacts, which is a canadian company. Some people rave about them, but here's an 18 page(!) thread over at redflagdeals that has some mixed reviews, especially about customer service problems.

In general, I think you should turn your eyes (punny!) towards the internet for cheap glasses, it seems that almost any store you turn to will have some bigtime mark-ups. With a little advanced legwork to get your prescription and proper sizing, it seems like you can buy multiple pairs online for the price of a single pair in store.
posted by dnesan at 8:44 AM on February 8, 2009

Some sites found after a few minutes of searching:

Goggles4U, Optical4Less, 39Dollarglasses, and Zenni Optical.

Some are based outside of North America (Goggles4U in Pakistan, Optical4Less in China, the other two are in the US), but shipping is reasonable and they seem to be reliable.

If you want a lot of feedback on them, dig through this 174 page thread (dear lord!), once again courtesy of redflagdeals.

Here's another thread over thereon ClearlyContacts, this time focused only on their 38 dollar eyeglasses.
posted by dnesan at 8:57 AM on February 8, 2009

Some drug stores such as Shoppers and some Wal-Marts (in the drug dept.) carry a random selection of cheap glasses. The rational being I suppose if someone breaks or loses their glasses, they can pick-up something as a crutch until they can replace their prescription ones. If I'm correct in assuming he just wants a temporary back-up pair in order to drive if he's in that situation, it might be worth considering. Usually I keep my old glasses in the car when I get new ones.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2009

Apologies, I seem to have completely skipped over the "He's wanting to buy them in person rather than on-line" sentence, I'm not sure how that happened.

Aren't the Shoppers/Walmart stuff mainly reading glasses? That's what I always assumed. Either way, they're worth a look. The best I've found via B+M is usually Costco. I usually by via Pearle Vision, but they're definitely not cheap. They often have Buy One Get One Free deals that I usually go with, but the end cost is usually $300-$400, definitely not "bargain basement".

In Toronto we have Pacific Mall, which has lots of small little optical stores that are in heavy competition with each other, and I know people who have often found deals via that means, usually involving a lot of haggling. Maybe try something like that? It's clear that there's a heavy mark-up here, so maybe some creative measures can be taken to bring the price down. Small stores are probably better for that, and of course, YMMV.
posted by dnesan at 9:27 AM on February 8, 2009

Costco Ottawa.
posted by snowjoe at 10:57 AM on February 8, 2009

I don't think you'll find anything cheaper than Costco locally. Walmart is also an option in the same price range. There are many stores in Ottawa that have giant signs, ads all over, etc. about how their glasses are so incredibly cheap, but they are generally significantly more expensive than Costco or Walmart. The place you are thinking of on Merivale is probably Hakim Optical, which is not really cheap at all. I wouldn't recommend that your friend wastes his or her time with speciality glasses shops. If Costco is too expensive, then the only other option is shopping online (where specs can be had for 1/3-1/2 the Costco price).
posted by ssg at 9:14 PM on February 8, 2009

You were almost certainly thinking of Hakim Optical, one of the larger local chains. I've bought from them years ago. I wasn't impressed by the quality of the frames or the service. They're very comparable to Lenscrafters.
posted by bonehead at 1:09 PM on February 11, 2009

Response by poster: Alright, alright; I went back and looked. Eyewear Emporium of Woodfield Drive, at the corner of Woodfield and Merivale, has twenty-nine dollar glasses. From a table full of used frames. There's a larger selection available if you want to break the bank at $59 -- lenses included. Where do they get the used frames, I wonder?

Most of the 2nd-hand frames were basically Lenscrafters, ten years ago. Recognizable brands, slightly dated but not risibly so. There were enough twenty-year-old frames to make it worth a pass for anybody looking for 'funky retro' rather than 'glove box only.' No screaming chic 50s finds, though; Eyewear Emporium is for people who want to look rather than be looked at. But it was still a neat shop to find.
posted by kmennie at 4:53 PM on February 11, 2009

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