A weekly spotlight on the fabulous Nottingham Independents who make our city unique.
If you are looking for a pair of glasses to complete your look (and help you to see better) Gray & Bull Styling Opticians is the place for you. Established in 1806, the oldest independent dispensing and ophthalmic opticians in Nottingham, opened at their current location on Pelham Street in 1939. The building boasts a beautifully carved vintage shop front that is almost as eye-catching as the hipster specs in their displays.
Gray and Bull, who in the early years were making prosthetics, celebrate their 215th Birthday this month. Nowadays, they offer free style consulting and there is no obligation to buy. You can get your eyes tested and they sell non-prescription and prescription sunglasses too.
To find out more about the brand, we caught up with Darrell. Darrell is one of the opticians talented team members and knows his stuff when it comes to top notch eyewear and customer service. Read on for the full interview.
Hi Darrell, what a great range you have here! Who chooses the products in store?
"The in-store team choose the frames because we are the ones seeing our clients daily, we know what trends are starting and what the people of Nottingham (and further afield) are looking for. As all the team are now qualified eyewear stylists, we know what frames will suit our clients, taking into account such things as hair/skin tone, face shape etc. We keep up with the latest releases from our brands and are always looking further for new ranges that we believe will suit our portfolio."
Do you have a favourite pair or brand?
"I personally am a big fan of Jacques Marie Mage (JMM) and Theo frames. As an Eyewear Stylist, we believe that everyone should have at least two pairs of glasses in their eyewear wardrobe. One casual everyday frame, and one bold frame for when you are going out. You wouldn’t just have one pair of shoes, would you? JMM frames are bold with beautiful, muted colours. Each frame is made to a worldwide limited-edition quantity, so makes them feel more exclusive. JMM use the best materials too and a lot of their frames are accentuated with precious metals. It’s also nice to know that celebrities such as Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L Jackson and Rihanna also wear JMM frames. Theo frames are the opposite. Theo specialises in special shapes and bright, vivid colours (plus they do a stunning purple pair, which is the one you will now see me in at work). Theo are not ones for doing the safe and standard. They are always creating new, wonderful shapes and colours."
Wow sounds great! Can we pop in to browse?
"As things stand, browsing and any visit to the practice are ideally done by appointment. The shop floor is small, so to maintain as much social distancing and mixing as possible, we like to see one client at a time. This also give us more time to focus on that client and give them the red-carpet treatment that we believe they deserve when trying on frames and choosing their perfect pair of glasses or sunglasses. That being said, if there is no-one currently booked in when browsers arrive, we will certainly not turn people away."
Okay, so what else can we do on a trip in to Gray and Bull?
"My ideal day in Nottingham would be one where I don’t have a specific task or agenda. A nice sunny day where I can take my time window shopping and going into shops that I wouldn’t normally visit. I like to incorporate a nice meal in a quaint little café (like Fox Café next door or Pelham Street Kitchen just a stones’ throw away) and then finish the day with a theatre visit (big fan)."
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