By the time Marlene Marino puts the 15th pair of frames in front of you, you’ll know for certain that you’re not at an eyeglass store in the mall. Oh heck, you’d probably know by the fifth pair: Marino, the owner of the new Verona Opticians store on Bloomfield Avenue, has got frames for men, women and children in every color of the rainbow, designer names like Prada and Juicy Couture, and shapes you haven’t seen since you were a kid. Yes, cat glasses are back in fashion and the rhinestones have more sparkle than ever.
“A woman came in the other day and bought five pairs,” says a bemused Marino. “She said she needed them for a photo shoot.”
Marino may be new to Bloomfield Avenue, but she isn’t new to either Verona or the eyeglass business. The Bloomfield native has lived in town for 12 years. (Full disclosure: One of her kids ran against one of mine for a student government position; both lost to another candidate.) She worked at Eyecare 20/20 in East Hanover for many years before buying Verona Fashion Opticians from David Bercovicci earlier this year. She moved the shop a few stores east–to 573 Bloomfield Avenue–but kept a commitment to Bercovicci’s customers.
To bring in new ones, she has applied a keen eye for fashion, a mom’s sense of practicality (kid frames that are both stylish and durable) and the ability to tell customers, quite gracefully, when the frames they are considering are not their best look. Marino is mindful enough of the times to have prices for every budget. “In this economy, not everyone can afford Prada,” she says, showing off some frames that are designer looks in all but name. Rec Specs, the eye wear that is mandatory for Verona children who wear glasses and play sports, are just $165 at Verona Opticians.
One more clear sign that you’re shopping in Verona, and not the mall: Marino gives a $50 discount off a complete pair of glasses to fellow residents.
Marino doesn’t yet have a Web site, but you can use the slideshow below to do a bit of armchair shopping. Verona Opticians is open every day except Sunday and Tuesday, and Thursday night, the shop is open until 8 p.m.