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framed Putting Patients First By Denis Langlois Q. What kind of clientele does your store service? Mark Trudell says his The Walkerville Optical shop in Windsor, Ont., puts people before profits, which he says is one of the benefits of owning an independent store. A. It’s pretty eclectic as far as age. Most of my patients are looking for frames that are unique and that are better quality than what every- body else carries. They tend to appreciate what I’m doing; not just in terms of how the store is curated, but also the level of personalized service I provide. “I feel that if I put my patients and my professional integrity first, everything else should fall into line,” he says. “I don’t feel you do this when you’re always thinking about volume and profitability.” Trudell is the sole owner and employee at his shop, which opened in July 2015. He says after graduating high school, he decided to study communications in university in hopes of landing a career associated with music. But, after two years, he decided it wasn’t a right fit. “A family friend owned his own optical and I thought ‘Hey, now that’s kind of cool,” so I applied to Georgian College and became a registered optician,” he says. After working in the industry since 2001, he decided to make a go of it on his own. Trudell recently spoke with Optical Prism about his shop. 30 EYE FOCUS | August Digital 2017 Q. What brands does your store carry? A. I try to carry frames from independent companies with great stories. I love working with SALT, Oliver Goldsmith, Vinylize. They make great frames, but are also real people. I can get ahold of the owners and designers and speak directly with them when I have questions. I geek out about the stories behind the brands and what they are doing. I try to pass this on to my patients and if they don’t appreciate my knowledge, they at least appreciate my passion. Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use? Advertising is difficult. It’s difficult to transmit what I do in a small print ad or in a 30-second radio spot, not to mention very expensive. I’m also a niche, so it’s tough to hit that demographic through tradi- tional advertising. People are skeptical of ads anyway, so I rely heavily on word of mouth and Facebook reviews. Q. What are some benefits of operating an independent outlet? A. I do really love the product that I carry. Offering independents brings in a whole new world as far as quality. And it’s great to have that confidence and belief in what you’re selling. But honestly, the biggest benefit is that I can really keep a handle on quality of service. I don’t have to put profits first. I don’t have to sell certain items. I can be 100% honest with patients about what I think will work well for them. I can take the time with them that they deserve and help them find out what their needs are.