Today we’d like to introduce you to Cheryl Aparo.
Cheryl, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been an Optician for 43 years, the last 23 owning my own business. I started in this field working part-time at Pearle Vision at the age of 18 as a frame stylist while I was in college. At the time, Pearle Vision was a somewhat new business module in the optical world and has since changed the industry forever. I apprenticed there for three years, learning how to grind lenses, repair and adjust eyeglasses. I passed my state boards and became a Registered Dispensing Optician. It has been a wonderful career, a joyful ride for me! I get to work with my hands, meet all types of people, and make people see better.
I have worked at big chain stores, small chains, private practice, and large Ophthalmic practices. Louisiana, California, Boston…finally settling on Gloucester, a lovely seaside community with ties to the fishing industry. I took a position with a small chain optical as manager and was employed for 11 years. After working so many different places over the years I had many ideas of how I wanted things done but did not have the final say.
Meanwhile, a storefront opened in a small shopping center on the other side of town, closer to where my husband and I used to drive by all the time. We would joke about how it would make a really good location for an optical store, After a few more disagreements with my boss, I would come home really upset that my hard work and dedication to someone else’s business was not being appreciated, My son was 2 1/2, my daughter 8 months old when I finally gave my notice and signed a lease for my very own store. It would not be possible without the help and support of my husband, who sold his fishing boat to give us the funding we needed. Danny stayed home with the children while I worked 65 hours a week. It was one of the best things I have ever done! I have a beautiful shop that my husband built out, making all the displays and furniture himself. A truly wonderful clientele, some of whom I have been making their glasses since they were little!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it is never smooth! But we did it, sitting on paint cans with the kids at night eating pizza while we worked on the store. We signed a lease August 1 and opened October 3rd. I was just about to open in a few weeks, and could not figure out why my frame vendors were not calling me back to place frame orders. I remember so well the day a salesman that I had worked with at my previous employer met me in the parking lot after dark. Why all the cloak and dagger?? He told me he was afraid of losing business.He had a family to support, and was told that he would lose all 6 accounts from my previous employer if he sold frames to me! Again and again, I heard the same story, from other vendors, but I did find some very willing frame companies that were very happy to fill my store with their inventory. I was so naive at the time, not realizing what had been done to me was illegal! And when Ocean Optical opened its doors, I was successful from day one. I always treat my clients the way I would like to be treated. I never push any product that I do not feel they would benefit from, I am honest to a fault, and If I do not like the look or fit of a frame on someone, they cannot buy it from me.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ocean Optical Inc – what should we know?
I will say that it is customer service that sets us apart from others. I have delivered glasses to homes when someone could not make it to the store. Nursing home visits, dispensing glasses curbside, meeting someone at the airport to deliver glasses last minute before a trip. I only carry the current product, no frame in my store is discontinued, and only the best and newest lenses. I keep my store spotless and shiny, displays get changed regularly, and my husband and I usually do a major renovation every 5 years. I am very proud of my store and I really enjoy coming into work every day! I have also traveled to the high country in the Dominican Republic several times along with another employee and an Optometrist and we do vision clinics for the poor. It is a life-changing trip for those we help and ourselves as well!
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Just knowing that I can succeed against all the big box stores and all the corporate giants like Lencrafters, that have huge advertising budgets and bankrolls behind them.
- Address: 127 Eastern Ave. Gloucester, MA 01930
- Website: oceanopticalcapeann.com
- Phone: 978 282 1923
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org