Warby Parker visited Philadelphia while on its “class trip” visiting different cities with a school bus, which serves as a mobile showroom.
Warby Parker, a New York-based eyeglasses company founded by University of Pennsylvania alumni, sells glasses with prescription lenses for prices starting at $95. The company keeps its prices lower than most other prescription eyewear because it does not sell through boutiques, and they don’t hire designers. Instead, it keeps its own operation. Anyone can order glasses online, as well as trying them out through their home try-on program.
In order to expose its company and glasses to more cities around the country, Warby Parker began its “class trip” in New York on Oct. 10. The company then traveled to Boston and Philadelphia. Warby Parker was stationed at various locations in Philly for two weeks, starting on Oct. 24 and ending on Nov. 4.
The “class trip,” which is to last six months, will visit cities including Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and Los Angeles.
“[The turnout] has been great,” Taylor Bennett, social media coordinator at Warby Parker, said. “I mean, [the school bus] is a great visual anyway, so it attracts a ton of attention.”
Along with the showcasing of the brand’s glasses drawing attention, the visual of the school bus itself attracted crowds of people who were previously unaware of Warby Parker.
“I like what they got going on here. The school bus really is the attraction,” attendee Ian Pathey said. Pathey had not heard of Warby Parker before seeing the school bus when it was located outside of the Anthropologie store at 18th and Walnut streets on the bus’ last day in Philadelphia.
The company’s name is derived from two characters, Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper. They were two of Kerouac’s earliest characters discovered in his personal journals. The four founders of the company then combined the two characters’ names to form the company’s name, Warby Parker.
“The company itself really does support education and the name of the company did come from two Kerouac characters, so there are definitely literary roots with the company,” Bennett said. “Kind of just a classic education setting — it looks like a professor’s study.”
The company’s connection to education, especially books, is also reflected in the school bus, which includes elements such as a map of the country, a chalkboard and books, including a few works by Kerouac, lining the wall of the bus in addition to the wooden displays for the glasses.
The visuals of the school bus and the educational setting brought back memories for some of their days in school.
“You hear about the school bus and it’s just funny. People often have flashbacks of, ‘Oh, I haven’t done this in years,’’’Bennett said.
The school bus itself, besides being a mode of transportation as a traveling showroom for the company’s glasses, promotes much of what the brand stands for.
Warby Parker supports education and charitable organizations, as for every pair of glasses that is purchased, another pair is donated to someone who is in need through the brand’s partnership with VisionSpring, along as supporting other organizations and causes which help to aid the community.
“I can see that there are huge inefficiencies in the [eyeglasses] market, and that what they’re doing, especially with the buy a pair, give a pair, is a really good cause,” Lois Lee, an attendee, said.
Aside from philanthropic endeavors, Warby Parker attracted new customers on Nov. 4 with their stylish, affordable spectacles.
“I think it’s cool…attracting a younger generation nation-wide,” Kristopher Ison said.
Ison had not known of Warby Parker before visiting the mobile showroom.
“It’s more young and hipster,” Ison said. “I see it going a long way.”
Despite a decrease in attendance of the Warby Parker “class trip” immediately after Hurricane Sandy, many people from across the city came to see what the company has to offer during its two-week visit in Philadelphia.
With its wide array of glasses styles, the company is making an impact on the country as it travels by promoting education through its mobile-showroom school bus concept.
Taylor Farnsworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.