COLUMN: Longtime favourite eyewear store changes hands

There’s nothing shortsighted about Pete Heinrich’s vision for Precision Optical on Pemberton Avenue downtown. 

As the store’s new owner, Heinrich – with 35 years experience as an optician – took the reins from his former employer Tom Huggins, who opened the shop in 1979. The experience of building and continuing long-standing relationships with customers in Squamish is what held the most interest for him.

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“This is the longest that I’ve been in one spot and I love it,” said the Maple Ridge native who made the purchase in October. “Customers repeatedly come back every couple of years for new glasses and more frequently for adjustments, and I love that – they’ve become friends to me.”

In the time I visit the shop, Heinrich greets every customer that walks through the door by name, instantly connecting and anticipating their needs, whether it’s a new order scheduled to arrive, a tweak to an older pair of frames, or picking up new contact lenses. He’s jovial, relatable, and most of all gives the distinct impression that he cares. 

The store built its name on customer care under the hand of Huggins, and Heinrich intends to carry that on with the help of Tom’s son Paul, who is also an optician. 

“Paul has been licensed for the past 10 years or so, but he’s been working here since he was in high school. He’s really come to a place of anticipating customer’s needs and he’s got a knack for helping people select fantastic eyewear. He’s doing what he’s best at,” said Heinrich, adding he’s eager to meet the growing needs of Squamish’s diverse cross-section of residents.

“Our older customers want the ‘meat and potatoes’ in frames and service,” he said. “They want classic styles that will last them a long time and we are definitely here to provide that for them, however there’s a new population base of Squamish residents: young families, and individuals that are very fashion forward, sports-oriented and conscious of style – and we want to offer them everything they are looking for.”

The store is continually bringing in new selections of eyewear with an emphasis on active lines for families in the corridor who are eager to explore all the recreational opportunities at their disposal. 

After living in Squamish for close to a decade, Heinrich said he feels he’s truly immersed in the community. As a volunteer of the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival where his father-in-law Al McIntosh has presided as emcee for over 50 years, as well as the Test of Metal and triathlon, Heinrich said he relies on the friendships he’s made.

“It’s been good to be part of a team of local people. It’s given me a sense of community.”

“My favourite part of this job is definitely the people,” he said. 

“The thing that gets me up every morning is being able to give the best customer service that I can. I want people to have a super positive experience when they come in here.

“Paul and I really enjoy being nice to people. We treat them in a kind and respectful way – that’s what we strive to do day in and day out. Absolutely everyone who comes through that door is going to have a positive experience, bar none.”

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