Owl Optical Offers Designer Frames for Linden Hills

The Hansens stay up to date on trends with annual trips to New York.

Tucked away in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis is a little, family-owned optical store. What’s inside is a feast for the eyes (pun intended). Co-owners Chris and Julie Hansen choose each eyewear design for Owl Optical, specializing in frames for anyone trying to update their look.

“I always say glasses are like a great pair of jeans,” says Julie, “if they fit, you’ll wear them to death, and if not, they’ll stay in your closet.”

The couple met while Julie was working in a different optical store and married less than a year later at the church directly behind what would be their future place of business. A few years and two kids later, the family was looking for a pair of glasses for their 4-year-old son and was struck by the $800 price tag that came with them.

“She said, ‘If I had my own store, I would charge half of that,’” Chris says of his wife. With their children’s school year approaching, the couple decided to sign the lease for their space. “It was a fast and furious decision, but it was the best one we ever made.”

Perhaps no two people know more about how one pair of glasses can change a face. Taking into consideration the fit, shape and bridge of the glasses, the Owl Optical team approaches every customer differently. Julie’s cell phone number remains on their business card, sometimes getting texts about contact lens orders. One constant is always using the best lenses, and another is having an eye doctor stop in two days a week.

“We have people that come back like four or five years later and say they still love them and buy another pair for their collection,” Julie says.

Cost is comparable to other big box retailers, but their stock remains as curated as it began. “Yes, they are a little bit more expensive, but they’re all independent eyewear designs whose designers we’ve met. It’s part of the quality, and five years later they still look great,” says Julie. Since opening, the space has also become a living room of sorts for Chris and Julie to spend time with new and returning customers.

“We love having our customers sit down and have that personal connection,” Julie says. “There’s sometimes we’ll have an hour or two hours where we’ll be talking about family, our kids and trips we’re going to take.”
Julie’s been talking about glasses since her first job in the industry at Pearle Vision in high school. She kept working in optical while pursuing a degree in fashion at the University of Minnesota. Chris also comes from a creative background. He became a graphic designer after pursuing an art degree.

The couple travels to New York every year to see new trends in eyewear. This past year they visited Milan, Italy. “Metal is making a comeback,” Julie says. “That large, oversized look is here to stay and more people are experimenting with color.”

The store and family still reside in Linden Hills, a place Chris affectionately calls “a small town in a big city.” As their two kids get older, they don’t spend as much time playing Wii in the back of the store but continue to spend time together on Sundays, the day the store is closed and the glasses stay behind the glass.