How to Open an Optical Shop

by Felicia Greene; Updated September 26, 2017
Optical shops make eyeglasses for a variety of customers.

Optical shops appear to enjoy favorable business prospects for the periods between 2008 to 2018. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that opportunities for dispensing opticians, frequently associated with optical shops, are expected to increase by 13 percent. This growth will result from an older population with more needs for corrective glasses, as well as more general awareness about the need for good eye care. Technology-savvy opticians with professional certifications will have the most chance for success.

Items you will need

  • Business structure information
  • Insurance information
  • Business license
  • Sales tax license
  • Information on optical shop competition
  • Information on potential optical shop location
  • Display fixtures and lab equipment order
  • Optical lab supplies order
  • Eyeglasses and supplies order
  • Entry forms for Open House giveaways
  • Ad rates and copy for newspaper ads
  • Ad rates and copy for radio station ads
  • Fliers
Step 1

Select your optical shop’s structure. Meet with a Certified Public Accountant to select your optical shop’s business structure, and consult with a commercial insurance agent as well. Visit your city or county clerk’s office for a business license. Contact your state Department of Revenue for a sales tax license for your eyeglass product sales.

Step 2

Analyze your optical business competition. Research your optical shop competition before selecting a location and opening your doors. Search for optical stores within your state, as well as stores within your immediate county. Locate stores within driving distance that may also be competitors. You can also browse many optical stores’ Web sites for more information about their services.

Step 3

Determine the best shop location. Optical shops, generally headed by opticians, are commonly located adjacent to ophthalmologists or optometrists, both medical eye care professionals. Ophthalmologists are physicians specially trained in eye care, while optometrists lack physician credentials but have medical eye care training.

Optical shops and medical eye care offices can share operations staff. This symbiotic arrangement offers convenience for the customer and potential follow-up business for both practitioners. Professional eye care directories provide information on local medical eye care offices without a nearby optical shop.

Step 4

Order your display fixtures and equipment. Purchase countertop, window and slat wall displays for eyeglass frames. Ensure your fixtures allow separation of eyewear for adults, children, sporting and safety uses. Order optical laboratory equipment that enables custom lens creation and installation. Purchase lab supplies, such as hardware to enable you to adjust and repair eyeglasses.

Step 5

Hire qualified optometry support staff. Opticians require support from receptionists and trained optical associates who work with customers to properly select and fit eyeglasses. Attract pre-trained associates with an attractive compensation package, and train other outgoing employees who enjoy working with both adults and children. Hire qualified optical lab personnel as well.

Step 6

Purchase your frames and optical supplies. Place wholesale or discount orders for eyeglasses and sunglasses, plus glasses cases and cleaning supplies. Select a variety of frames to accommodate your customers’ preferences. For example, some customers prefer the latest designer frames, while others opt for no-frills utilitarian frames. Order colored and textured frames, along with safety glasses and children’s frames.

Step 7

Host an optical open house. Launch your optical shop with a festive open house that features discounts on higher-margin frames and new prescriptions. Offer hourly giveaways for eyeglass packages, and use those names to build a mailing list. Attract families with children by introducing “Optical Ollie,” a mascot who teaches good eye care. Advertise the event in local newspapers and on radio stations, and distribute fliers at local medical offices.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Photo Credits

  • portrait d'enfant image by Christophe Fouquin from