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The Eyeglass Lass moves from New London to Olde Mistick Village

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Mystic — With the desire to help her family and the delight of more parking, Siobhan Burns has moved The Eyeglass Lass to Olde Mistick Village after operating out of a State Street spot in New London since 2014.

"I wasn't planning on moving at all," she said. "It was very out of the blue and just kind of fell into my lap. I love New London."

Her father has multiple sclerosis and receives live-in care, and as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Burns became one of his shift caregivers to cut down on people going into his condo. For her business, she got a disaster loan but couldn't get other grants.

When Burns heard about a spot available in the Village, "all I thought was, 'Oooh, parking,'" she said. In the back of her mind was recent dissatisfaction with the management company of her building in New London when she sought pandemic-related information.

Burns added that bringing in more business through foot traffic and new clientele "might help me with the taking care of my dad part, and that, ultimately, at the end of the day, is the most important thing for me."

She hasn't been used to having much foot traffic since managing an optical shop in the Crystal Mall, which she did for a decade prior to opening The Eyeglass Lass. The shop first opened in New London as part of the state-funded CreateHereNow program in 20 cities, which aimed to fill empty storefronts by giving budding business owners at least a three-month break on rent.

She reopened July 22 in her new location next to Mystic Luxury Cinemas, where Pop on the Block used to be before moving elsewhere in the Village. With some customers "who travel a good distance to come to my store," she also likes that there are many other businesses open nearby so they can do other things.

With capacity limits, Burns typically can have only four or five people in the store at a time, and she asks people to put any frames they try on to the side so she can sanitize them. But she emphasizes, "Don't let that make you not try on as much as you want."

She has some frames that are free with the purchase of lenses, meaning someone could get a complete pair of glasses for as low as $100. She shoots for seven to 10 days to get the lenses in for frames, and customers get a discount if they buy a second pair within 30 days.

Compared to when she started in opticianry, Burns feels eyewear has become less conservative.

While she still carries classic black and tortoiseshell frames, "I feel like I'm just trying to find the crazier and more unique things," she said. She described a few such items: crystal-colored frames with hand-carving on the front "so it almost looks like it's frozen," cartoon frames that look like "a filter on Snapchat," frames made in Budapest from vinyl records, "some really futuristic space-like sunglasses that are hot pink and neon highlighter yellow."

Compared to working in a corporate environment in the past, Burns likes having the freedom to choose what she can sell. She also could "only wear so many layers of clothing to hide all my tattoos."

"I don't have quotas for days, weeks, months, years, quarters, any of that," she said. "I have no agenda of how much I need to make, because I genuinely just want to help people find glasses they're happy with."

e.moser@theday.com

New location of The Eyeglass Lass, in Olde Mystick Village Thursday, July 30, 2020. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New location of The Eyeglass Lass, in Olde Mystick Village Thursday, July 30, 2020. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Business Snapshot

Business: The Eyeglass Lass

Where: Olde Mystick Village

Owner: Siobhan Burns

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

More information: theeyeglasslass.com

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