YOU’LL DIE ON THE VINE OUT THERE.....

The True Life Story of Dick Story

Just across Penn Ave from Penn Square Mall, tucked in a small stretch of shops, sits Dick Story Optical. In the afternoon the room fills with the soft light of spring. I talk casually with owner Dave Trent. The first question: Who is Dick Story? “An old marine,” Dave replies. This is the story he tells me. In 1971, three doctors—Lowery, King, and Campbell—operated practices at 11th & Classen. Dick Story was an ex-marine and an experienced outdoorsman. He worked Eye Clinic Optical at the same cross streets. Though he himself was no doctor, the community of physicians sought Dick Story’s friendship for his magnetic personality. Together the group would plan hunting and fishing expeditions. In 1971, Dick Story announced to his friends that he would be venturing out to a new location on Penn Ave, which at that time was an open-air mall. “You’re going too far away from downtown, Dick. You’ll die on the vine out there,” Campbell implored. Story and Campbell made a bet. “A hundred dollars says you’ll be back inside of six months.” Forty-two years later, Dick Story Optical abides. In 1977 Dave Trent went to work for an old marine named Dick Story at a modest eyewear boutique on Penn Ave. They say location is everything, and you couldn’t beat this one. The steady influx of new and repeat clientele gave the shop a special independence, something that would become a rare anomaly in the eyewear business. But eyewear is fashion, after all, and fashion longs to be free. Dave Trent’s employment at Dick Story Optical lasted 19 years, until 1996, when he purchased the shop from his mentor. In the 18 years since, Dick Story Optical has seen continued growth every year, even through the toughest economic times, with Dave Trent at the helm. There is an art to framing the face, and Dave Trent is intimate with that art. It goes something like this: Anymore it’s so wide open, top to bottom. A little bitty round frame with a saddle-fit bridge or a big chunky square that’s all border. It’s all a question of where you want to be when you finish this. Fifteen years ago you could put your inventory in all rimless because 7 out of 10 people were going to buy rimless when they came in. Then you kept a little something extra for that person that was trying to hold on to something they already had. But the new stuff could be rimless or various sizes of round. It is so wide open now that basically getting a frame to fit right is 90 percent of getting it to look right. The key is maintaining harmony between what people think they want, and what they end up buying. “We get to have fun with glasses. We’re not dictated by insurance.”

Article: Courtesy of So6ix Magazine