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Warby Parker Pencil Room

An online retailer lands on Main St.

by Sabine Bickford

From the October, 2018 issue

As local retailers like Aunt Agatha's and the Bead Gallery leave downtown for virtual stores online, Warby Parker is making the journey in reverse. The online glasses retailer opened its third Michigan location at the end of August in the former Life is Good space on Main.

The Warby Parker Pencil Room offers a selection of the company's "designer frames at revolutionary prices," plus a room for eye exams and another full of actual pencils for sale. Corporate wouldn't allow store employees to be interviewed, but according to a company fact sheet, Warby "filled a small alcove with pencils at our store in Cambridge [MA] … and it was such a hit that we decided to devote an entire space to them." From the NYC-based CW Pencil Enterprise, they come in many colors and feature a mix of locally and literarily inspired phrases, like "what varied syntax you have" and "I'd rather be reading in the Arb." They're four for $2, and all the proceeds benefit local writing nonprofit 826michigan.

Most of the frames on display are variations of a few of the company's popular "hipster retro" styles: large chunky plastic rims in a selection of shapes and colors (mainly brown, black, pink, or clear). On an afternoon the week before U-M classes began, a number of students- accompanied by their parents-were picking out pairs to fit their back-to-school looks.

Warby Parker Pencil Room, 304 S. Main. (734) 418-0377. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2018.]


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