How Zoff is taking over the eyeglasses market

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Last time I was in Tokyo, I spent a couple hundred bucks on a really nice pair of glasses at a boutique shop in Harajuku. A few months later, my puppy Malcolm chewed them to bits — to be exact, he cracked one of the lenses and gnawed on the earhooks. So when I came back to Tokyo this time, I went back to the store to see if they could either fix them or order me another pair. But the store was gone. “That store went out of business,” a neighborhood cop told me. “They couldn’t compete, the rent was too high and they weren’t making enough money.”

You know what I think happened? Zoff happened. I’m not sure exactly when the first Zoff glasses store was launched, but on my last few trips back I have noticed that they are now everywhere. There is one each Ebisu station, Meguro station, Shibuya station, and Harajuku station. Basically, Zoff brings the fast food model to eyeglasses. They have a very basic recipe — two or three lens shapes that fit into a variety of frames that they claim are custom-made to look good on a Japanese person’s face. They guarantee new glasses to be made for 5000 yen ($50) within half an hour. The process of purchasing glasses is basic assembly line style: pick a frame, get your eyes checked, make a payment, find out availability, wait 30 minutes. It’s so cheap and fast that you could even just get one made for the day if you forget to bring yours to work. After browsing several glasses stores near my house, I too was sucked into a pair at Zoff because of how cheap and easy it was &mdash and also because the cheap plastic purple frame was kind of cute.

4 thoughts on “How Zoff is taking over the eyeglasses market

  1. Those clear glasses are too cute! I’ve also been leaning away from expensive frames since I found http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com
    What an eye opener it was when I found this. I’ve had EXCELLENT results buying my prescription frames for $15-$30 each at zennioptical.com and goggles4u.com
    It’s almost addicting being able to purchase glasses for this little.. I’m tempted to have a pair for each outfit!

  2. Zoff rocks. My last pair of glasses were from the Shimokitazawa shop. Even a gaijin with poor Japanese vocabulary can get an excellent pair of glasses for cheap at Zoff.

  3. I looked in various stores, including Zoff, and could not find a frame that would fit my nose properly.
    By chance I noticed that Bic Camera sells them, and surprisingly they have a better range of frames than some of the specialist stores…
    Got mine made up within about one hour. I got a designer brand frame for a reasonable price, and then paid extra for the thin lenses.