The ‘Trader Joe’s’ of Optic Wear, with Broadway Flair | chelseanow.com

The ‘Trader Joe’s’ of Optic Wear, with Broadway Flair

Greg and Karen Freidus have mixed opticianry and touches of Broadway in their new eyewear shop. Photo by Elana Dure.

BY ELANA DURE | Greg Freidus went to optician school with the hopes of one day owning an eyewear shop.

The native New Yorker graduated and subsequently sought different experiences that allowed him to learn the trade and gain relevant skills. Greg said he worked in “all genres of the field,” including stints with a big-box store, private practice and independent shop. All the while, he never lost sight of his end goal, he said.

The hard work and years of practice ultimately paid off. In May, Greg’s dream of owning an eyewear store became a reality. After six years of learning experiences, Greg and his wife, Karen, opened Center Stage Optique in the West Village. The couple celebrated the store’s ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 4.

Center Stage offers customers a different eyewear shopping experience. The business meshes Karen’s Broadway passion with Greg’s opticianry background, creating a unique ambiance that provides shoppers with an enjoyable visit.

“We wanted to offer a fun, unique shopping experience that is whimsical and reflects our personalities, which is not old or stodgy or boring, at all,” said Karen, who worked on Broadway for 13 years running the group sales department at Jujamcyn Theaters. She explained that optometry shops often look like old medical offices, meaning uninviting, and the couple wanted to break away from that mold.

The store features a reception desk with theater tickets incorporated into the design, a collage of the Freiduses’ favorite Playbills on the dispensing tables, and a stage curtain that serves as an exam-room wall. Customers can also strut down the red carpet and model their glasses in the store’s Broadway mirror.

Non-Broadwaygoers need not shy away from Center Stage; the store offers fashionable eyewear for people of all interests. As Karen explained, the Broadway theme is only a detail; eyeglasses are the main idea.

Center Stage offers high-quality frames for a fair price, Karen said, joking that the couple likes to call themselves “the Trader Joe’s of eyewear.”

The store offers a package-pricing deal, bundling the frame, basic lens and basic anti-glare treatment for a cheaper price than the frame would cost elsewhere, Karen said. Center Stage also accepts out-of-network insurance benefits, allowing eligible customers to receive a partial reimbursement from their insurance companies after purchasing glasses.

“We decided when we opened the store that we didn’t want to be in bed with insurance companies,” Karen said. “They can control your pricing to some degree.”

The couple also decided that they wanted the shop to serve as a community center. As such, Center Stage plans to host Broadway trivia nights, actor meet-and-greets and a grand opening party. Customers can also enjoy a refreshing cup of fruit water and a tasty cookie snack while shopping at the store.

“We know that this is a great tourist destination,” Karen said. “But the people that live and work here are really going to be our bread and butter, and we want to make this a destination for them.”

Myriam Simone, a local shopper, came across Center Stage when she was walking her dog Bernie. She knew she needed new glasses, but instead of leaving with just one pair, she bought four.

“This is ideal. I love it because I did theater in my past,” she said. “I will definitely come here for years to come. As long as this is here, I’m here.”

Greg and Karen both said they are excited for the experience to own a business and look forward to serving the West Village and Chelsea communities. They said they hope locals will continue to support area small businesses and recognize the importance of having a local eyewear shop.

“Glasses are important,” Karen said. “They are part of your health, part of your vision, but they are also a fashion item and they really define your face.”

Center Stage Optique is located at 45 Seventh Ave. (btw. W. 13th & 14th Sts.). Any customer who comes to the store and mentions Chelsea Now will receive a 10 percent discount off all frames. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. / Sat., 10 a.m.-5p.m. / Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 212-933-1895 or visit centerstageoptique.com.