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What you need to know about the Warby Parker store opening at Tampa's Oxford Exchange

Warby Parker, a designer eyewear company, opens a showroom in Tampa's Oxford Exchange on Saturday. JUSTINE GRIFFIN | TIMES
Published Feb. 19, 2016

Shelves lined with square eye glasses, round glasses, some tortoise shell colored, and others with titanium frames now make up half of what used to be the bookstore inside the Oxford Exchange.

Warby Parker, a New York City designer eye wear company, is the latest brand to move into the Oxford Exchange, a hip and collaborative space that houses work spaces, a restaurant, a bookstore and two cafes near downtown Tampa at 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. The eyeglass and sunglass showroom opens to the public on Saturday, but that didn't stop Oxford Exchange patrons from trying on a variety of frames on Thursday, as employees worked on the final touches inside the showroom.

"All of our stores are very different from one another, but there's something about the Oxford Exchange that really stands out," said Kaki Read, communications manager for Warby Parker. "We don't open a lot of showrooms like this, but the partnership seemed so natural."

The showroom in Tampa is the company's 27th retail location, and the second to open in Florida. Warby Parker came to Florida in 2012 when the company opened a kiosk in the Standard Hotel in Miami.

Warby Parker opens freestanding stores and kiosks and showrooms in collaboration with other businesses across the country. The brand is known for its affordable prices on trendy eyeglasses and sunglasses. Prices in the Tampa showroom ranged from $95 to $145 for frames.

Read spent a few minutes with the Times Thursday to talk about the new showroom.

Tell me what is the Warby Parker experience like, for our readers who may not be familiar with the name.

Customers who have a prescription for eye wear are recommended to bring it with them when they visit us. But if you don't have it handy, that's no problem. Our associates can call your doctor and get that information for you when you're ready to place an order. We'll have five people staffing this new showroom in Tampa. So there will always be someone here to help you find a frame you like. We have two opticians on staff who can adjust your frames, take eye measurements and help find frames that fit specific needs, too. Orders are delivered within 10 days once they're placed in a store. But you can take non-prescription sunglasses home with you immediately.

What is Warby Parker known for?

We're known for having a lot of different looks. Each year we release four seasonal collections of designs, but last year, we released around 20 collections in total. So there's always something new to try on or check out. We collaborate with artists and non-profits too, like DonorsChoose.org and the musician Beck.

What's different about this showroom in Tampa?

We sell books in our stores too. What's different about the showroom in Tampa is that we work with Oxford Exchange to curate our book selection, whereas in our other stores, we sell books from some of our favorite independent publishers.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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