Shopping for glasses used to mean dealing with salesmen and the meager selection at a store in the mall. Now you can order better frames online, for less money, with better customer service. We asked you for your favorite stores, and here are five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week we asked you to nominate your favorite online stores to buy glasses. You replied with tons of contenders, from simple frame manufacturers to high-end sports glasses companies. We only had room for the top five though, and here they are in no particular order:What's The Best Online Glasses Store?
Shopping for glasses used to mean dealing with salespeople selling expensive frames at the mall.…Read more ReadWarby Parker
Warby Parker is probably one of the web’s most well known frame retailers. The company made waves when it launched, embodied the idea of what a good, problem-solving startup should be, and earned the loyalty of its customers by giving them the option to try multiple frames before they put their money down on the ones they’d want to keep. The service offers a wide selection of high-quality frames and styles, free shipping, and for every pair of glasses you buy, they donate a pair to someone who needs them but can’t afford them. Warby Parker’s story is compelling, and while their glasses may not be the cheapest on the block, they are some of the best.
Those of you who nominated Warby Parker highlighted their try-at-home program, where they’ll send up you to five different sets of frames, for free, for you to try out. You can wear them around for five days—get your friends’ opinions, and choose the ones you like the best. When you pick the ones you like, order them online with your prescription, and they’ll be sent right out to you. Box up the trial frames, and send them back—return shipping is prepaid. That hassle-free approach earned a lot of praise from many of you, as did Warby Parker’s donation program. They’re not perfect though—they only sell single-vision lenses (Update: They do offer progressive lenses in their brick-and-mortar stores), but you can still buy the frames if you like them. Read more in their nomination thread.Eye Buy Direct
If you’re walking the line between style savvy and budget buying, Eye Buy Direct is the retailer for you. They regularly offer steep discounts, buy-one-get-one-free sales, and other special savings on their massive selection of eyewear and frames. The company has interesting and unique frame options for men and women, prescription and nonprescription sunglasses, sport sunglasses, and even computer glasses designed to reduce glare. They also sell bifocal, progressive, and even Transitions lenses, so they can accommodate you regardless of your prescription or needs. These folks live on the notion that you don’t have to pay a ton of money for a pair (or several pairs) of great glasses.
Eye Buy Direct got a lot of love in the nominations round. Many of you praised the company and noted that you’d been customers for several years. Almost all of you called out the site’s deep discounts and sales, not to mention their regular BOGO sales. Some of you noted that their affordable pricing means you don’t have to treat your glasses with kid gloves when you wear them every day, or if you have kids that need glasses but are likely to damage or break them, you’re not out a ton of money. Still others praised Eye Buy Direct’s wide variety of frame and lens styles, and promo codes that can net you anything from free shipping to extras like tinting or free glasses. Read more in their nominations thread here.Zenni Optical
Zenni Optical’s claim to fame are super-cheap frames and glasses. They have a solid frame selection of men’s and women’s glasses, and great styles too, but almost everyone who has anything to say about Zenni points to the fact that they offer great glasses super-cheap. So cheap, in fact, that you don’t have to worry too much if they’re lost, damaged, or destroyed. At the same time, that great price point comes with a caveat—you’re not exactly going to get heavy, sturdy frames here; you’re getting frames that can probably take a beating and keep going, but you’re getting drug-store-style plastic in those frames (of course, that’s not all they have, but those are their most affordable designs.) Even so, if budget is the most important thing for you, or you’re notoriously hard on glasses, you could do much worse than Zenni. Their online tools let you snap a photo of your face and see how their glasses will look on you before you buy, which is a nice bonus. Plus, they have a great selection of sunglasses.
The nominations thread for Zenni Optical echoed the sentiments above. Many of you pointed out that the reason you love Zenni so much is specifically because your glasses from them are near-disposable in nature, and you can buy several at a time that you like without breaking the bank. If your glasses break, you can put on another pair and go on like nothing happened, and if you need to buy more, you don’t have to go into debt just to be able to see. Some of you noted they great for kids, and you are cafeful with your glasses, theirs will last you a while. They also support odd prescriptions and special lenses. Even if you shop with a more expensive provider, these guys are worth a look. Read more in the nomination thread here.Coastal/ClearlyContacts
Coastal, and their Canadian counterpart, ClearlyContacts, both turned up separately in the nominations round, but because they’re the same company, we opted to combine them. Coastal offers a massive selection of in-stock designer frames, and regularly runs promotions where your first pair of glasses or contacts from the company are completely free, or at least significantly discounted. Their prices are affordable—they’re not the cheapest in the roundup, but they’re also not the most expensive, and their prices are somewhat similar to what you’ll find at many brick and mortar glasses stores, without the hassle that comes with shopping at one. Coastal will also take care of your contacts needs if you prefer those, sell you sunglasses, and more, all with free shipping.
Those of you who nominated Coastal and ClearlyContacts all praised the company’s stellar customer service—which was one reason some of you said you continued to shop there. Others called out the company’s discount codes, which are plentiful and deep, so you save some significant coin when you shop there. Whether you got your first pair of glasses for free, or you just got a huge discount on your first set of contact lenses, Coastal draws you in by saving you money and treating you well when you spend it. Read more in Coastal’s nomination thread here or in ClearlyContacts’ nomination thread here.Goggles 4 U
Googles 4 U offers a wide variety of frames at pretty low prices, which is always good to see. They offer hundreds of styles and designer names to choose from, so how much you wind up spending will likely depend on the types of frames you select. If you go designer, expect to pay designer prices, but if you don’t need a name, you can get away with spending very little for a great pair of glasses here. The company offers prescription and designer styles for men and women and sunglasses, and you can spend hours just browsing the available frames. The site itself is a bit no-nonsense, which is just fine if you just want to buy some frames and be done with the process.
Those of you who nominated Goggles 4 U called out the company’s great customer service, variety of designs, and low prices on generic (but still good-looking) frames. Some of you noted that shipping may take a little while, and the affordable styles aren’t quite as attractive as some of the others in the roundup, but at their price point, you can’t go wrong getting more than one pair for what would otherwise get you a single pair. Read more in its nomination thread here.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the Lifehacker community favorite.
The honorable mention this week goes out to 39DollarGlasses, which, as the name implies, has glasses starting around $39. More than a few of you rallied to the cause, noting that their glasses, while affordable, are also long-lasting and stylish, and you can use their site to make sure the frames you want will fit before you get them. Many of you pointed to their frames being a bit less hit-or-miss than some of the other discount retailers. Reports on their customer service were mixed, though. You can read about them in their nomination thread.
Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo by Mal Booth.
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