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After 34 years, locally owned Fashion Eyes closes next month in downtown Santa Barbara

Fashion eyes
John Palminteri
The Fashion Eyes store in downtown Santa Barbara, locally owned, is closing after more than three decades.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -  A longtime locally-owned sunglasses and souvenir store in Santa Barbara will be closing next month.

Fashion Eyes opened in 1988.

Owners Victor and Lucy Chang are selling off their stock of sunglasses. That includes Ray Ban, Oakley, Smith, Michael Kors, Versace, Spy and Prada.

The site at 730 State Street should be vacant by the end of September. It is right across from the Paseo Nuevo Mall.

The store has both higher-end, top-of-the-line and economic sunglasses along with postcards, t-shirts, and collectibles.

Shopper Rafael Carrillo said, "yes my whole life we have been coming in here.  Especially for lifeguarding and a lot of the sports that we like. It is important that we have good sunglasses."

For Fashion Eyes Owner Lucy Chang and her husband Victor there's been ongoing competition from other stores nearby and online vendors.  "The prices that we are selling now is better than on line," she said.

There's also a personal touch.

Victor Chang said, "everything on the wall, I checked. Every single pair before we put it on the shelf. We  make sure they are straight and level and are nice. They will fit most people. I am very good at fitting to make sure. I learned by myself. "

Lucy Chang said, "(when) you buy a pair of sunglasses and nobody has helped you, you probably have the crooked frame  forever without knowing it."

Shiela Diano found a pair of customers that fit just right and said, "I bike to work every day.  They fit  real snug."

The retirement sale will go through September, with prices 40 to 80 percent off.   Many customers will have their last goodbye's and final look at this family owned business with service that's hard to find these days.

Carrillo said, "a couple of times we will lose a nose piece or what not and we come in and half the time he just gives it to us.  He's really kind."

Lucy Chang said, the local customers, "they are like friends to us.  Not just customers ."

The downtown area has been challenging for years, and many efforts are underway to revitalize the heart of the Santa Barbara shopping district, along with the newly crafted State St. Promenade.

For the Changs, it was time to retire and not relocate.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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