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Retail Detail: Birmingham boutique sees things differently

A spectacle

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It’s rare we feature an optometrist in our retail column. We’d venture to say we’ve never written about an eye doctor before. But the eyewear boutique in Birmingham that goes by the oh-so-cool name Optik is more than just a place to get your peepers checked out.

Owned by Joe Ales, Optik is a little unusual. You won’t see any cheesy ad banners for Dolce & Gabbana or Calvin Klein specs. Really, you won’t find too many big-name brands in this shop. Instead, you’ll be met with a collection of cool vintage and one-of-a-kind frames that is unmatched by any other eyewear boutique in the country.

If that last sentence seems a little hyperbolic, consider this: Lucky magazine named Optik one of the three best eyewear boutiques in the United States back in 2005. The designation may have come a decade ago, but it still rings true. You’re not going to find a more eclectic and exciting collection of specs.

Step inside this little shop on West Maple Road, in the heart of downtown Birmingham, and you’ll notice the vibe is different than most doctor’s offices. There are vintage display cases, there’s eccentric art on the wall, and there are funky glasses everywhere.

Optik’s stock is comprised of never-before-worn vintage frames as well as unusual lines that aren’t carried anywhere else in the state. At any given time there’s a selection of wayfarers, aviators, cat-eyes, round frames, retro plastic frames, futuristic metal frames, and just about everything in between. They carry luxury brands by designers like Lunor and Thom Brown and chic frames and shades by Dita. They’re also a Tom Davies Bespoke retailer, if you’re looking for ridiculously custom frames.

Suffice it to say, you won’t walk out wearing the same black, rectangle frames as everyone else at the office.

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