Warby Parker cofounder and c0-chief executive Dave Gilboa is getting another excuse to return to his native California.
The eyewear company and tech darling plans to open a third store in the San Francisco Bay Area, WWD has learned. The new 1,598-square-foot location, under construction now and slated for a fall opening, will be at 555 Ramona Street, in Palo Alto. It will be situated just a mile from Stanford University.
Warby Parker currently has 31 U.S. retail locations. Fifteen additional new stores are planned through the end of the year, including doors in New York’s Grand Central Station, Philadelphia, Austin and the brand’s first international store, in Toronto.
Warby Parker opened a door in San Francisco in 2014, followed by a location in San Jose — Silicon Valley central — the following year.
“I grew up in California and went to college and worked in the Bay Area, so I’m always looking for excuses to visit my homeland,” said Gilboa, who attended nearby University of California, Berkeley.
He said that since the Bay Area is a hub of technological innovation, “customers tend to be more discerning when it comes to customer experience.”
“We find that they both appreciate and expect us to use technology to make shopping fun and more convenient,” he said. “Some of the tools that our software engineers have built are more widely used, we find, in the Bay Area than in other parts of the country.”
The company did not share design details, but both the San Jose and San Francisco locations carry a librarylike aesthetic, and are manned by associates wearing lab coats that recall the late Bill Cunningham’s favored look. The stores operate mostly as showrooms, allowing customers to try on the brand’s full assortment, take home sunglasses or order prescription styles that can be shipped in a few days.
Warby Parker will soon open its first fully owned optical lab, just north of New York City, in Rockland County. The company plans to hire more than 100 people to work at the 34,000-square-foot space, which will be used to assemble glasses and finish prescription lenses.
“We started Warby Parker with the goal of transforming the eyewear industry by offering an alternative to the overpriced and underwhelming prescription glasses on the market,” Gilboa said. “Since 2010, we’ve been committed to building a business that lasts, and, as we continue to scale, the lab will allow for more sustainable growth across our supply chain.”