Making a Mark

View a PDF of this year's VM's D.A.R.E. honorees for 2013
View a PDF of last year's VM's D.A.R.E. honorees for 2012
View a PDF of VM's D.A.R.E. honorees for 2011

Vision Monday is excited to announce the winners of our Third Annual Dispensing and Retail Excellence (D.A.R.E.) Awards, sponsored by Europa International.

“As the frame company that prides itself on being ‘independent for the independent,’ we are always looking for ways to support the independent ECP,” said Cynthia Shapiro, creative director of Europa International and a 2013 D.A.R.E. Awards judge. “When we learned that Vision Monday was going to be honoring the best and most daring retailers, we jumped at the opportunity to participate. We hope this program does more than honor the best of the best; we also hope it inspires other retailers and gives them new perspectives on how to compete in this ever-changing and consistently challenging marketplace.”

The D.A.R.E. Awards were conceived in 2010 to award daring optical retailers and dispensers from the U.S. and Canada in five different categories, with an additional winner, chosen by readers, for a sixth award. In 2013, an additional award was added bringing the total number of possible winners up to seven.

This year, eyewear retailers and ECPs were asked to submit entries, free of charge, from May 6 through June 14. Those submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges (see details on page 56) and the winner in each category was identified.

The judges also selected six entries they deemed worthy of special recognition for their daring approaches across different aspects of optical retailing to be put up for the “We the People” Readers’ Vote Award. From July 1 through Aug. 9, readers were then able to vote on those six nominees at to determine a winner.

Over the next several pages you will be able to see a sampling of the submission essays and supporting materials that earned each of this year’s daring retailers their honor. Of particular note this year is the fact that half of our winners are from the Midwest, one is from Canada and none are from the usual suspects like New York or California, proving that daring optical retailing is happening all over the country.

So please join us in congratulating the daring winners that made their mark in 2013. And if you missed entering this year’s D.A.R.E. Awards, we hope the caliber of winners inspires you to participate next year.

Look for the complete story on, where you will also be able to revisit the retailers who claimed the prize in 2012. ■

Deirdre Carroll and Catherine Wolinski