Spectacular spectacles, a love story
For Owl Optical owners Chris and Julie Hansen, lovely eyeglasses aren't just pretty face-bobs or vision aids — they’re powerful mojo talismans. Julie and Chris met among the spectacles in Minneapolis, 1998, at a local eyeglasses shop. Julie was working there while studying at the University of Minnesota. Chris sauntered in and (smart guy!) waited around for the lovely woman behind the counter to help him.
Julie’s big first line? “I like your boots!” (they were super cool boots).
Julie still recalls Chris’ frames of choice: Classic, black plastic-framed Lafonts that remain a popular pick. The duo went out to discuss their love of eyewear over cocktails and have been together ever since. Married in 1999, the couple have two boys, who make occasional star appearances at the shop, and a rowdy duo of Siberian huskies. Their goal: Search the most exciting eyewear designs from around the world and bring the most special spectacles to Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Julie’s fashion industry background at Dayton’s/Marshall Fields’ buying office plus Chris’ graphic design background (and inherent love of all things stylin’) have collided to create a unique buying experience for spec aficionados. “Eyewear is art to us,” Julie said, “If it’s going on your face, it’s literally a part of your expression. We wanted to give people something amazing to say!” The stores are both unique, with lounges and play areas for kids.
“We want to welcome each customer, our store has become like a home to us.” Chris said, “Everyone who walks in is a guest. We want this to be a family shop that serves generations and keeps track of what people need, the way old-fashioned spectacle shops in Minneapolis and St. Paul used to be.” The couple opened a new store 8/3/18 in St. Paul's Merriam Park neighborhood. "For both our Linden Hills and Merriam Park locations we chose community-oriented and quirky neighborhoods. Our stores grow organically, from a lot of word of mouth, and we're here to be a part of the community not just rent space."
Full services and eye exams are available at the Minneapolis location, and Chris and Julie promise speedy ordering and all the bells and whistles modern technology offers – glare-free, transitions, specialty lenses, and everything in between.
“We also have backgammon!” Julie added. Sounds like love.