Last week, value-priced UK-based eyewear retailer Ollie Quinn initiated a North American expansion that included launching nine boutiques in Canada. The company’s growth plans are ambitious, with an anticipated 30 stores expected to open in North America over the next two years, as well as an equal number in the UK.
Ollie Quinn was founded in London in May of 2013 by four friends, two of which are Canadian. Its Canadian operations launched in March of 2014, though its stores have only just recently been rebranded under the Ollie Quinn nameplate.
Of the nine locations that are now open, five are in British Columbia, three are in Ontario, and one is in Alberta. British Columbia locations include four Vancouver boutiques (303 Cambie Street, Bentall Centre, 3795 Main Street, and Metropolis at Metrotown), as well as a location at 531 Pandora Avenue in Victoria. Ontario locations include Toronto at 387 Queen Street West, Mississauga at Square One, and a location at 354B Richmond Road in Ottawa. Ollie Quinn’s only Alberta location to date is at 829 17th Avenue SW in Calgary.
These locations were formerly licensed Bailey Nelson stores — parties have since parted ways, and Bailey Nelson is now opening its own corporately-owned Canadian locations.
Ollie Quinn is expected to open about 30 stores in North America over the next two years, according to communications director Siena Dixon. Many of those will be in Canada and as well, the company plans to open a further 30 stores in the UK during the same time period. This spring, the retailer will open its first US location in Seattle.
Boutiques are generally in the 600 square foot to 1,200 square foot range, according to Ms. Dixon.
The Canadian launch features Ollie Quinn’s inaugural collection of 50 optical and sunglass frames designed by an in-house team of creators, led by French designer Sebastien Brusset. Mr. Brusset has over 20 years of experience in the eyewear industry, having also worked with brands including TAG Heuer, Leica and Sonia Rykiel, as well as on Savile Row.
Frames are designed in-house, and lenses are cut locally. Each frame included in the launch collection is named after one of Ollie Quinn’s team members. All frames are priced at $145 (including single vision prescription lenses), making Ollie Quinn competitive with the likes of expanding competitors such as Warby Parker, Bailey Nelson and BonLook.
Prescription frames are available within one week — or two weeks for more complicated prescriptions. They can be collected in store or delivered. Ollie Quinn works to existing prescriptions, as well as offering in-house eye exams. A full eye test takes about 30 minutes, after which a dedicated team of stylists will help customers find the perfect pair of frames for their face. In store, the Ollie Quinn optometrists can also help customers with high index and varifocal prescriptions.
Each boutique has been designed by in-house architects (including lead boutique designer Courtney Molyneaux) with a clean aesthetic and where possible, they work with local furniture suppliers and craftspeople to create welcoming spaces that reflect each individual neighbourhood. Guests are encouraged to linger, explore, and enjoy their experience.