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Seeing Clearly Shouldn’t Be A Luxury: The Story of Second Specs

During International Women’s Month, St. Albert Gazette is celebrating women that are making a difference in our local business and community landscapes.

Meet Stephanie Patel from Second Specs.

Founded in 2013 by Dr. Aaron Patel and optician Quy An, Second Specs is a locally owned and operated business that offers affordable, quality eyewear. The store's name was chosen by Stephanie Patel, who has been with the company since day one.

For Patel, the store is more than a retail concept. It’s a passion with a mission to change lives – locally and abroad.

“A huge part of our identity is the “Buy One Give One” campaign,” says Patel. “We have run this campaign since the first day we opened.

The Buy One Give One Glasses Program is run in partnership with Canadian Vision Care. For each pair of glasses purchased at Second Specs, a pair of glasses or an eye exam is donated to a person in need. In support of this program, the Patels and An have traveled to developing nations to deliver brand new glasses and conduct eye exams, but Second Specs’ giving back also takes place robustly at home. In fact, giving back to customers and the community is in Second Specs’ DNA.

Patel explains, “Seeing should not be a luxury. We know how expensive glasses can be. This is why we operate out of kiosk locations, have our lenses on site and also cut and fit on site. Low overhead means significant savings passed onto our customers. These low prices also include the designer frames we carry.

We can complete single vision lenses in under an hour. Progressive lenses take a little longer but still have low wait times.

Many people are turning to online sources to find affordable glasses.

“We understand that, we really do,” says Patel, “but the reality is, getting the proper prescription and well-fitting glasses online is incredibly difficult. At Second Specs, we have an optician on site. Our prices are similar to online but come with in-person, professional service and an optician that properly fits your glasses. This is important for your eye health.”

The kiosks are located in popular malls across the prairies.

“Our locations and kiosk model, in addition to lowering costs, add to the convenience for our customers,” says Patel. “Once ordered, customers can shop or eat while waiting for their glasses. Additionally, we are great for tourists who are visiting and lose or break their glasses. We are conveniently located, easy to find and can provide a replacement or repair in (typically) under an hour.”

With increasing competition from national and international chains, Second Specs is proud to remain a locally owned and operated small business.

As she considers International Women’s Month, Patel says, “As a woman in business I enjoy being in a position to help and to inspire my daughter and other women to take on roles, join corporations and be a voice in them. As a woman, I offer a different perspective than my husband and Quy. But it’s not just me here. I’m so fortunate to work alongside an incredible team of women like Christy Dean, Joanne Lee & Char Salting who are just a few of the top leaders in the company who help keep Second Specs running smoothly. Without them we wouldn’t be where or who we are today. It makes me really proud that the majority of our highest paid leadership roles are held by women.

Second Specs is making a big difference for eye health locally and abroad. Learn more by visiting Second Specs online and on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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