Bayside optometrist sticks to old-school ways

By Joe Anuta

Vincent’s Opticians in Bayside has a reputation for quality — and it goes back a long way.

Owner Paul Nicolosi’s father was an optician as well as his grandfather.

Many customers say they used to come to Vincent’s when they were children, tagging along with their parents on errands.

And in some ways, not much has changed.

“It goes back to the old Sicilian ways,” Nicolosi said, referring to his father Antonino, who immigrated to the country a generation before. “An old-fashioned business.”

Nicolosi’s main draw is quality and customer care, he said, two concepts that often get lost in the digital age.

Vincent’s does not do a lot of advertising. Instead, he gets most of its business through referrals from doctors.

The ophthalmologists know they can rely on Vincent’s because, according to Nicolosi, he makes sure the job is done right.

“There is a doctor who has an optician’s office right next door to his,” said Nicolosi. “But he sends his patients over to me.”

On a wall in the modestly sized store, a posted sign instructs customers to be patient — and for good reason.

Nicolosi goes through extensive preparations to ensure that both the spectacles fit and are the right prescription. Curiously, some of the routine measurements he takes puzzle some customers, who had not even have them taken in other stores.

Vincent’s carries a wide variety of lenses, but the Italian population in the Bayside and Whitestone area tends to prefer European designers.

Carrara, Gucci and Trussardi frames are just some of the wares offered.

On a recent Thursday, two women walked into the store complaining about some crooked frames they bought somewhere else. Nicolosi plied the glasses with a small screwdriver at the back of the store, finding the best adjustment he could without breaking the lenses, and handed them back.

The women insisted on paying, but ultimately conceded and left.

“It’s no charge. It’s what we do,” Nicolosi told one of them.

The optician then sank back into his chair.

The personal touch is becoming no match for the lures of the Internet, he said.

When Nicolosi’s family set up shop in Queens in the 1950s, a charismatic owner and word of mouth was all that was needed to fill the store.

Now Vincent’s has to deal with Yelp reviews and mail order contact lenses, and Nicolosi points out his store will match any price and ship the lenses as well.

But Nicolosi hopes the old adage holds true — you get what you pay for — and that potential customers know that good work takes time.

The Nicolosi family has spent a long time practicing.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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