Hidden in plain sight

Isn’t is absolutely amazing that you can drive past a place for weeks and not realize its there? Have you ever done it for months, or dare I say, years?

John MacInnes has been in business for over 23 years as “MacInnes Optical”. If you are leaving Dover-Foxcroft via RT. 7, you will find him in a little brown building on the right just beyond the Chamber building. If you are heading into Dover from Dexter, you’ll find him on the left as you approach the center of Dover Foxcroft. In the past several weeks, I have mentioned MacInnes Optical to several locals who responded to me with a bewildered look on their faces. In spite of the signage which includes an over-sized pair of frames, many remain unaware that there is a place in town where they can fill an eyeglass prescription, or even have eye-glasses repaired. Why blog about it? Glad you asked.

I thought it was time to give everyone a peek inside, because that has always been my motivation for this blog. BUT.. that is not the only reason. I had a personal experience at MacInnes Optical that I want to share.

After accidentally stepping on my glasses and destroying them beyond repair, I scheduled an eye exam with Dr. Frasz at Family Eyecare in Dover Foxcroft, and after an enjoyable visit, I was given my updated prescription for contacts and new glasses (it’s never fun finding out you need bifocals, but that’s another story…). Dr. Frasz’s office recommended I check out the frame selection “across the street” at MacInnes, so that was my next stop.

My first question was whether or not my insurance was accepted. I was told by an employee that they did not accept insurance at all, but she encouraged me to look around because their prices were so competitive. I browsed for a bit, and actually found two name-brand frames that I liked, a lot. The price seemed much lower than anything I had seen elsewhere, though I had not been frame-shopping in over two years. I told her what I was looking for, including prescription, lens type, tint, uv, anti-reflective coating, scratch resistant, etc. etc., and she gave me a price on the entire job using my top-pick frame. Though the price was not astronomical,  I thought I could certainly do better with insurance.

That weekend, I did what I hate to do. I got in my car and drove OUT of Piscataquis County and into Bangor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Bangor. I love to dine there, shop there, and visit with friends. However, as the Chamber Director, I really do try to practice what I preach and “keep business local”. So, if I can buy ANYTHING in Piscataquis, that is where I buy it. If I cannot, I will travel elsewhere, which is usually Bangor.

I went to a well-known, larger establishment in Bangor. They had a wider selection, greeted me with friendliness and professionalism, and were very knowledgeable. So far so good. I found a frame that was close to the one I loved at MacInnes, but not quite. After twenty minutes of wavering between two frames (thank goodness the man was patient with me!) I chose one, and we sat down to go over pricing. I presented my insurance and was informed it was a “great” optical program and it should save me a “good amount” of money.

I was given a “without insurance price” first, and almost fell out of my chair, but after hearing my gasp and seeing all the color leave my face, the gentleman quickly tried to recover by explaining I would receive an allowance for frames and lenses, and some discounts on the add-ons. Everything was entered into the computer, and I was given my total. I was also told that I would have to wait two weeks to get them because when the order is processed through insurance, it comes from the insurance company’s contracted manufacturers.

Here’s the kicker, and the reason I am writing this blog.

The price was exactly $53.58 HIGHER (plus gas & travel) than I would have paid without insurance at MacInnes, for frames I actually liked better, and I would have had them in just a few days.

I stopped back in to MacInnes Optical a short time later to speak to John about Chamber membership. I thought I was treated very well when I was there, and I was VERY impressed with their selection for a smaller place, and their pricing. While we were chatting, an elderly gentleman came in who had lost a screw from his metal frame, causing his lens to fall out of the frame. He didn’t have an appointment, nor did he purchase the frames from MacInnes Optical, but John quickly excused himself from our conversation, took the glasses and fixed them, tightened the other screws, cleaned them up and handed them back to the gentleman in under two minutes.

“What do I owe you?” the old gentleman asked, to which John replied: “Don’t you worry, it’s on the house, have a nice day.”

Before leaving, he told John he “didn’t even know this place was here”, and that next time he would surely have his glasses made at MacInnes Optical.

So, though many may not find this post particularly entertaining or relevant, it is to me, and it is to John MacInnes. Though John has been here for many years, business is slowing down. He’s not big into computers, doesn’t have a web presence or a Facebook page, and has never really needed to “promote” himself over the years. Treating people fairly with his pricing and his personal touch has been enough. Until now.

Because of this, I wanted to make a little noise for MacInnes Optical in Dover Foxcroft. I want to be sure that if you are a resident of Piscataquis County, you will shop local for your glasses. If you’re from away and you want great service and amazing prices, I hope that you’ll find your way to his front door. Look for the little brown building, hidden in plain sight.

Thank you for taking a Peek into Piscataquis.
MacInnes Optical
1047 South St.
Dover Foxcroft ME 04426
Is Dover too far? Check out John’s Bangor location at 885 Union Street.
Denise Buzzelli

About Denise Buzzelli

Denise Buzzelli is the Executive Director of the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce. She is happily married to her husband Gregg and is the proud mother of two daughters, Angelina, 18, and Roseann, 16.