First Look: Vision benefits giant unveils its first-ever store

As the lines between health care and retail continue to blur, VSP has gone brick-and-mortar.

VSP Global, whose businesses include national vision benefits company VSP Vision Care, has debuted its first physical location. Opened under the Eyeconic banner and located in Chicago’s trendy Bucktown neighborhood, the store is designed to serve as an extension of VSP’s eyeconic e-commerce site, connecting products, services and a VSP network doctor to retail-minded consumers. A second Chicago location is set to open on July 13.

VSP said it decided to launch the Eyeconic stores in Chicago based on higher out-of-network claims the company was seeing at optical chains and mass retailers in the city. More than 400,000 VSP members live and work in the Chicago market. (VSP is the nation’s largest not-for-profit vision benefits company and covers one in four people in the U.S.)

“A strategic, wholly owned retail footprint helps meet client expectations and contributes to a healthy and competitive network,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO, VSP Global. “By reducing out-of-network leakage, we also ensure members in Chicago are getting the most value out of their benefits—particularly those who fall into the 20 percent of consumers who prefer mass retail and online-based eyewear stores over private practice.”

The Eyeconic store feature a curated selection of about 500 frames for men, women and children from more than 30 brands, including Calvin Klein, Nike, Salvatore Ferragamo, DKNY, Cole Haan and more, along with major contact lenses brands. Bundled frame and lens packages offer simple and transparent pricing and sales associates do not work on commission, the company said.

Before coming into the store and seeing a VSP network doctor, customers can go online to schedule eye exams and browse eyewear. The Eyeconic site offers endless aisle integration with virtual try-on and expands total frame options to over 60 brands and 2,300 styles.

“As we conducted research, we identified a unique, uncommitted consumer who is looking for simplified shopping, transparency and convenience when it comes to their eye care and eyewear-buying experience,” said Bill Vaughan, president of VSP Retail. “We are building the Eyeconic brand to meet the needs of discerning customers.”