Ray Ascher’s family has been in the optical business since the 1930s. When Ray took over the family firm in 1983 he discovered his mother’s company owned hundreds of thousands of brand-new but out-of-style eyeglass frames. Some folks would have folded up their frames and called it a day, but Ascher saw an unrivaled opportunity to create a market in retro-style eyeware. Now he seeks out discontinued frames all over the world and resells these trendy eyepieces to those with a flair for the unusual or exotic. With an ever-changing stock of more than fourteen thousand frames in the Berkeley store alone (and an alleged four million-plus in warehouses around the world), Phoenix Optical is the place to find yesteryear’s forward fashions, whether you’re looking for stylish gold-filled frames from the 1920s or fabulous fur-covered frames from the 1990s. You’re unlikely to find this season’s styles (unless they’ve come back into fashion), but if you’re looking for an enormous selection, this is the East Bay’s most extravagant optical store.
5417 College Ave., Oakland, 510-601-6398