Warby Parker cofounders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa in the new Greene Street store.

The storefront at 121 Greene Street.

Welcome to Warby Parker.

What you see when you walk in. Hopefully you see it even clearer when exiting.

Custom terrazzo flooring embedded with the Warby Parker logo. Partners & Spade dreamed up the store's design conceit.

Literary themes abound: The look of the store is inspired by a library. Books on Warby Parker's shelves are color-coded--eggshell, kelly, cerulean, crimson, and aubergine. And the cofounders combined the name of two early Jack Kerouac characters, Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper, to name their company.

The product.

The store has four rolling ladders attached to the walls. Here's the view from a top one of the ladders.

The store sells books, too. Warby Parker teamed up with 14 publishers to display selected books from their catalogs on 14 different shelves. Shown here: Melville House Books.

Books for sale live on the lowest level of store shelves.

Glasses go in the middle of shelves, right at ... eye ... level.

Sunglasses and optical glasses--men's and women's--are mixed throughout the display around the store.

Each section of glasses is marked sunglasses or optical, but there is no specific pattern to the sections--the right fit might be anywhere in the store.

Boxes displaying the Warby Parker logo are at the highest levels on shelves.

Every employee gets Warby Parker uniforms, even managers. Women have a choice of two tops and guys have a button-down shirt.

Eye exams can be scheduled online or in the store. There's a waiting room and a ticker board that makes a loud sound when times come up.

An in-house lab checks vision. (Justin Timberlake loves this.)

An in-house lab checks vision. (Justin Timberlake loves this.)

Warby Parker cofounders Dave Gilboa (left) and Neil Blumenthal (right).

Books, glasses to read books

Books by 14 partner publishers in Warby Parker's lobby remind you just how bad you need to be at this place.

Books, glasses to read books

Books by 14 partner publishers in Warby Parker's lobby remind you just how bad you need to be at this place.

Books, glasses to read books

Photo-art in the waiting room.

Books, glasses to read books

Photo-art in the waiting room.

Photo Booth

The camera in the photo booth (left). You can choose your own backdrop (right) for the photos (no purchase necessary)--so you'll see how your frames look in a variety of scenarios.

Photo Booth

Photos come out in about 30 seconds.

Photo Booth

Photo booth strips.

Photo Booth

Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa--inside the store, an iPad photobooth prints film, instantly. (Take that, Instagram!)

Take A Look Inside Warby Parker's New NYC Flagship Store

The stylish eyewear purveyor opens its flagship store today. Cofounders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa show us the magic behind 121 Greene.

Warby Parker stormed the retail glasses industry in 2010 with a novel way to sell its affordable, stylish specs: online. Hundreds of thousands of sold pairs later, the boutique glasses purveyor is today opening the doors to its brick-and-mortar flagship store, at 121 Greene Street in NYC's SoHo neighborhood.

Warby Parker rapidly built a thriving e-commerce business through an innovative model that eschewed costly expenses, such as brand licensing fees, and sold product directly to consumers, allowing the company to sell glasses for as low as $95 a pair.

But cofounders David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal tell Fast Company their brand has had a brick-and-mortar presence almost since its inception. Their first retail location? Blumenthal's apartment.

Store design by Partners & Spade

"We literally would invite people to come to the apartment and we’d lay the glasses on the dining room table," Blumenthal says. "We thought it was going to be this sub-optimal experience, and it ended up being something really special."

They eventually opened up a showroom in New York City and set up displays within several smaller boutique retailers across the country, including The Standard hotel chain's Los Angeles and Miami locations, where guests can visit Warby's kitschy, '60s-themed "Readery" kiosks.

But Blumenthal and Gilboa have sprinkled the flagship store with an extra dusting of retail magic, taking a few cues from their neighbor across Greene Street: the Apple Store.

"What I think Apple did tremendously well when they launched retail was not to focus on how to shove as many products into the footprint as possible," Gilboa says. "It was really focused around creating a magical experience." That's what we've tried to create here."

When you walk into 121 Greene, you'll find rolling library ladders, a photo booth, reading materials from Warby-approved independent presses, and mirrors upon mirrors, so you'll never have to travel far to peep a glance at your bespectacled self.

Blumenthal and Gilboa say the store is an early testament to where the retail industry is headed.

"The future of our business and all retail is going to have some online and some offline component," Gilboa says. "The world doesn’t have to be black and white."

[Photos by Joel Arbaje]

Add New Comment

4 Comments