Carrie Rengers

Specs Eyewear owners expanding with another Eyewear Junkie

Specs Eyewear’s new Eyewear Junkie concept, shown here in Derby, also is coming to the Village at Greenwich in January.
Specs Eyewear’s new Eyewear Junkie concept, shown here in Derby, also is coming to the Village at Greenwich in January. Courtesy photo

Contrary to what Specs Eyewear co-owner Jason Bell calls an odd rumor, he and Monte Ysidro have not sold their company.

Instead, they’re expanding – again.

“It’s kind of ironic,” Bell says.

The two are going to open a new Eyewear Junkie in the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich next month.

Bell and Ysidro first started the concept a year ago when they converted their Derby store at 1918 N. Rock Road from Specs to Eyewear Junkie.

“It’s a concept we’ve wanted to try for a long time,” Bell says. “Basically, we just took all the brand names out, but we kept the glasses cool. Obviously, it brings the price down by quite a bit.”

He says they made the change to target millennials.

“It seems like one of the coming trends is that the younger generation isn’t as focused on brand names,” Bell says. “But what we’ve found is that all ages appreciate the concept.”

He says that’s been the case in Derby.

“We’ve had a great reception down there.”

The new Eyewear Junkie will be in 1,400 square feet between Edible Arrangements and Mattress Hub and in the same building as their friend Alex Harb’s Meddys.

Bell says Harb says his restaurant has done well since opening in the center.

“Every time you go by there, that whole center seems like it’s busy,” Bell says.

Bell and Ysidro also have a Specs Eyewear nearby at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road that will remain open.

Except for a small bit of crossover sales, he says, “They’re completely different.”

There are also Specs stores at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road and in Towne East Square.

In El Dorado, Bell and Ysidro converted their Specs store to half Specs, half Eyewear Junkie a month ago.

“We kind of split it down the middle,” Bell says.

In June in Hutchinson, they took over the longtime Payton Optical, which they’ve been calling Payton Optical, A Specs Eyewear Co.

Bell says the idea has been to let people know Specs is in town but also that “we’re carrying on that 70 years of tradition.”

He and Ysidro are interested in other expansions as well.

“We’ve tried several times to get to Kansas City,” Bell says.

For various reasons, it hasn’t worked out yet.

Bell says they’re always looking for new opportunities, though “sometimes not as aggressively as others.”

With so much going on, Bell says, it’s hard to imagine why anyone thinks he and Ysidro have sold the business.

“It’s the weirdest thing.”

Bell says it’s actually “kind of the opposite.”

“The company is still locally owned, as always.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers