Direct-to-consumer (DTC) glasses specialist Pair Eyewear is taking its first step into physical retail through a collaboration with regional supermarket chain Hy-Vee, which will see the brand open kiosks in select Hy-Vee locations across the Midwest this September.
The Pair Eyewear kiosks, the first of which is set to open at the new Grimes Hy-Vee in Grimes, Iowa, will provide a hybrid shopping experience. Customers will be able to try frames on in person and then place both prescription and non-prescription orders that will be shipped to their homes within five to seven business days.
“The introduction of Pair Eyewear to our Hy-Vee customers brings variety and value to their shopping experience through this hybrid model,” said Hy-Vee chairman, CEO and president Randy Edeker in a release. “By combining our in-store format with Pair’s e-commerce platform, we are able to build a unique and convenient experience for our customers.”
Founded in 2017, Pair Eyewear offers prescription and non-prescription optical glasses, sunglasses and blue light glasses for adults and children. The brand’s customers can personalize the base frame of their glasses with one of a wide range of “top frames,” which are attached magnetically to the base, meaning that styles can be switched in a matter of seconds. Pair currently offers more than 1,000 top frames, which include collaborative designs with Harry Potter, Marvel, the NHL, and MLB, among other brands.
With its move into brick-and-mortar operations, the digital-native retailer, which closed a $12 million Series A funding round earlier this year, is tapping into a wider trend of DTC brands teaming up with big box chains for partnerships that are being seen as mutually beneficial in the wake of a devastating year for many retailers. While the DTC brands are given an opportunity to create a physical touchpoint with their customers, they can also generate a boost in foot traffic for the larger, more traditional chain involved in the collaboration.
Hy-Vee, which boasts annual sales of $11 billion, currently operates more than 280 retail stores spread across Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The supermarket chain plans to open more than a dozen Pair Eyewear kiosks across its eight-state region within the next year.
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