San Francisco

Optical Underground celebrates Hayes Valley move with grand opening

This weekend, luxury eyewear shop Optical Underground is holding a grand opening event to mark its move to 333 Linden St. (between Gough and Octavia) after departing a downtown location earlier this year.

The family business, which sells overstock and discontinued items, was housed in storefronts near Union Square since 1911, company president Lloyd Silverstein told Hoodline.

He said the family has a long history in eyewear: in 1906, his grandfather handed out free glasses in Golden Gate Park to people who lost theirs in the cataclysmic earthquake. 

Lloyd Silverstein with a picture of one of the company's former stores.

The firm's former space at 280 Sutter St. was in a basement. "Optical Underground has moved above ground, but we’re still staying under the radar," jokes its website.

Although the grand opening is tonight, Silverstein said the store has been open for about three months, since it had to relocate quickly after its former landlord declined to extend the lease.

He said the area appealed to him because so many of his customers frequent Hayes Valley and it already has a community of optical businesses. Since relocating, he's now supporting a move to transform Linden Street into a Living Alley, which he hopes will help resolve quality of life issues like littering.

The store, which carries designer sunglasses and frames priced between $100 and $200, also has its own lens lab. On one wall, Silverstein mounted the company's sign that was once displayed outside his Sutter Street storefront.

Optical Underground is renting the entire building, with a team working on the relaunch of their e-commerce site on the second floor and a loft and event space on the third floor.

An area in the middle of the store will offer customers a place to relax with a beverage and hang out while they shop for eyewear.

"I want to send people out in the streets with unique looks," Silverstein said, noting that his store offers a low-pressure shopping experience with knowledgable customer service. Each year, he travels to trade shows in fashion capitals like Milan, Paris, Munich, Hong Kong or New York City keep with the latest trends.

Optical Underground currently employees six people and is hiring for a new store manager. "Hiring for retail is a challenge," Silverstein said, adding that many stores in the neighborhood are also seeking new employees.

Optical Underground is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.


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