LAKE FOREST — Bud Turner sold a line of eyeglasses in the mid 1970s calling on George Wiegold, the founder and owner of what was then one of Lake Forest’s newer businesses, The Village Optical Shop.
Turner started doing lab work for Wiegold after he finished making his sales calls and in 1978 went to work full time at the shop. They have been selling eyeglasses to people in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and beyond ever since.
The Optical Shop will close its doors on Westminster Avenue December 31 because Wiegold, a Lake Bluff resident, is retiring after a little over 45 years as a Lake Forest merchant fitting three generations with glasses.
“It feels really strange when the great-grandchildren start coming in,” said Turner, a Lake Forest resident.
Though Turner said he has not yet put glasses on the fourth generation of customers, they have come into the shop with their parents who were third-generation customers. Wiegold said they do not have a problem when moms and dads bring their youngsters to the store, whether for glasses or while the adults are fitted. There is a child-size table loaded with Legos in a far corner.
“The kids come in kicking and screaming,” said Wiegold. “After they start playing with the Legos they leave kicking and screaming.” The children’s table is also useful when the child is the customer. “It distracts them while we fit them.”
Turner and Wield have mixed feelings about winding down their days at the shop.
“I’m happy,” said Wiegold, 71, who will retire when he locks the doors December 31.
“I’m sad. I enjoy what I do. I’m going to miss the people,” said Turner, 68. “I have been searching,” he added. He plans to keep working when Wiegold retires.
Wiegold said Turner is the ultimate people person. He said Turner has a file in his head of each customer, knowing their likes, dislikes and background.
“Everyone likes him,” said Wiegold of Turner. “He knows their names, their kids’ names, their grandkids’ names and their aunts and uncles.”
“He has the memory for numbers,” said Turner of Wiegold.
Numbers were a reason Wiegold started the business. He said he and his wife were working for optical chains before 1971 when he got a better idea.
“I got the feeling I could make more money working for myself,” said Wiegold. “My wife worked here until our children were born and she became a full-time mother.” He said the profits were better as an entrepreneur and it went that way for 45 years.
People were the reason Turner left the wholesale end of the eyewear business for retail. He said he gets a charge out of getting to know customers and meeting their needs.
“I like working with a lot of people,” said Turner. “We get repeat customers and I don’t have to call on a doctor every six weeks and solve their problems.”
Both Turner and Wiegold had similar but disparate training as opticians.
“I got my training in the Army,” said Wiegold.
“I got mine in the Navy,” said Turner.
Do they ever debate which branch of the military is better?
“Only during the Army-Navy (football) game,” said Wiegold.
“We won this year,” said Turner. “It only took 14 years.”
Wiegold said he is closing the shop because it is the right time to do so, but he is uncertain what he will do in retirement.
“I’ll leave it to my wife to decide,” Wiegold said. “There are going to be some honey-do lists.”
There is also a very serious side to what Turner and Wiegold have been doing for 38 and 45 years respectively. They said they recognize eyewear is a very personal thing to people. They complete each other’s thoughts as they discuss it.
“You get to know the people and know their needs,” said Turner. “
“If you change your glasses your image is going to change,” Wiegold added. “That’s why we sell a lot of tortoise in brown and blond,” he added saying people in the area like to maintain their image.