ANN ARBOR – Glasses retailer Warby Parker is coming to Tree Town.
It will be celebrating its grand opening on Saturday at its new location, at 304 S. Main St.
The popular retailer is known for its affordable, trendy frames -- starting at $95 for prescription glasses -- and was founded in 2010 by four friends at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
"They founded Warby Parker to disrupt the eyewear industry and to be kind of an alternative to those expensive, confusing, not really enjoyable shopping experiences that they had had themselves," said associate manager of retail communications and public relations Ruthie Ben-Zvi.
"They started the company with the intent to have a social mission built in from the ground up as a part of the business. So for every pair of glasses that we sell, we distribute a pair for someone in need through our nonprofit partners."
One of those nonprofits is VisionSpring, which one of Warby Parker's co-founders worked for before business school.
Warby Parker has two other stores in Michigan: Its Detroit location opened in late 2016, and more recently, it opened a shop in Troy.
"This store is unlike any other Warby Parker store," said Ben-Zvi. "The concept is really about celebrating pencils, which is this classic, timeless writing utensil that represents everything from writing to reading to learning. And there’s that inherent tie between glasses and reading and learning and creating."
Four giant pads of paper are spread throughout the store, where customers are invited to scribble messages or drawings using the pencils.
"All of the pencils are four for $2, and all of the proceeds go to 826Michigan, which helps students aged 6-18 sharpen their writing skills and get excited about reading and writing and learning."
Upon entering the store, your eye is immediately drawn to custom art behind the reference desk called the "Periodic Table of Pencils."
"It's original to this space and is something we created just for this store," said Ben-Zvi. "It has these little sayings that we have printed on the pencils. Some of the phrases on the pencils have been written by students from the 826michigan workshops."
As for Ann Arbor, it was on the company's radar for some time.
"It’s a wonderful place, and we’ve always planned on opening a store here and just got to that point where we found a perfect spot on a wonderful street full of restaurants," said Ben-Zvi. "We’re excited about the location. I think for us it wasn't: 'Are we going to open a store in Ann Arbor?' It was just when."
To learn more about Warby Parker, visit www.warbyparker.com.