Alex Feldman

SAN FRANCISCO—Among the retailers VM spoke to, San Francisco Optics had the busiest trunk show schedule by far. “Anything that we choose to carry in the store is a brand that we want to do the trunk show with,” said Alex Feldman, CEO and owner. “If it’s in the store, we love and believe in it and would like to feature it in an event.”

His optical boutique, located in the Marina District since 1979, averages one trunk show a week in the spring and fall. According to Feldman, San Francisco Optics is booked 30 percent to 50 percent of weekends throughout the year. Since the shop started promoting trunk shows 15 years ago, they found that weekends work better. “We plan for Saturday because people are free then and we are in a high traffic area. Noon to 5:00 p.m. is ideal for getting the window shoppers in,” Feldman said.

By holding the shows on the weekend, Feldman said he is also able to recognize the sales increase in frames from a featured brand the following week. “If the trunk show is on a Saturday, we’ll sell more and the majority of the stuff sold will be of that particular

At a trunk show for Robert Marc, San Francisco Optics staff
was on hand to help visitors with questions regarding the
frames collection.

line. He attributes the uptick in sales to the boutique’s opticians. “Usually the psychological effect it has on our opticians is to make them excited about that line so they’ll automatically go to those brands first when they’re styling our customers.”

Adding that the impact also comes from the brand or supplier company itself, Feldman said, “We want the sales reps to get involved and be our key information holder for anything we haven’t learned yet. The more they help, the more successful we’ll be.” Past events have included Robert Marc, SALT., Oliver Peoples, Barton Perreira and a recent German-themed cocktail party with designers from Mykita.

To help market the frequent events, San Francisco Optics relies heavily on both new media and traditional advertising. “We’ve been doing social media marketing for about two or three years and the website for much longer. Since Twitter and Facebook came out, we’ve used them a lot too,” Feldman said. An e-mail list and address database for blasts and postcard mailers also help the company keep in touch with existing customers.

Because each trunk show is different, varying with the brand and season, Feldman explained the need for a variety of promotion strategies: “Results vary. When we do a trunk show for a name that is more popular, then social media gets better results because it catches the general attention of the public. “But if it’s more of a private line that eyewear connoisseurs know about, it’s not as effective.” For this reason, Feldman continues to take out ads in the community paper. This season, he paid for five—one for each show San Francisco Optics would be hosting.

“We’re very good at developing a taste for our clients with particular lines,” Feldman said of the busy schedule. “We have people who come to every Robert Marc show because they love that line. It’s an event that our clientele look forward to.”

San Francisco Optics has been on the corner of Chestnut Street
in the Marina District since it opened in 1979.

The interior of San Francisco Optics before a trunk show.
Merchandising material for Gucci frames, provided by Safilo,
is placed throughout the store.

Delia Paunescu, Assistant Editor