New York City-based eyewear retailer Warby Parker will open its first Canadian store this summer in Toronto. It could be the first of several Canadian locations, and it will compete with at least two value-priced eyewear retailers already operating stores in Canada — including one that’s homegrown.
Warby Parker is an innovative, value-priced prescription eyewear retailer, which was founded in 2010 as a pure play online retailer with a $2,500 seed investment by students in the Venture Initiation Program of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Shortly after its launch, the company was featured on Vogue.com and GQ, referred to as ‘the Netflix of eyewear’. The company has grown substantially and now boasts 30 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States. Last year, the company was reportedly valued at US $1.2 billion.
Warby Parker designs its glasses in-house and sells directly to customers — prices are therefore generally lower than regular optical stores, which may mark up product substantially.
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Warby Parker will open its first Canadian store at 684 Queen Street West, at the corer of Euclid Avenue in Toronto’s trendy ‘West Queen West’. It will replace Dark Horse Espresso, which recently vacated that space for a nearby location. Warby Parker will join trendy retailers at that corner including Vancouver-based John Fluevog shoes which is across the street at 686 Queen Street West, as well as Anthropologie, which opened in a restored church in December of 2014.
Warby Parker will compete with retail locations operated by Vancouver-based value-priced Clearly Contacts, which opened its first freestanding Canadian locations in 2013. Clearly Contacts currently operates a retail location at 317 Queen Street West in Toronto. Warby Parker could also take market share away from Australian eyewear brand Bailey Nelson, which operates six Canadian locations, including a Toronto store at 387 Queen Street West.