Brick and Mortar to click and order

Legacy of Hope has the privilege of partnering with some remarkable businesses and people through its Corporate Legacy Sponsor program. Omega Optical’s story is a perfect example of the exceptional people with whom we work. Read on to see why.

Navigating the stormy waters of retail can be a harrowing, often cataclysmic, experience for small businesses. But Steve and Tracy Davis, and their mom-and-pop, high-end eyecare boutique, Omega Optical, have weathered enough formidable storms over their 22 plus years in business to prove themselves more than capable as navigators. Through dogged perseverance, Omega Optical has become Philly’s first omni-channel luxury eyewear retailer. “We just didn’t know that we weren’t supposed to make it [past the first three years].” States Tracy in earnest.

Married for nearly 24 years, Steve and Tracy met at Virginia State in the late 90s. After graduating, Steve dabbled in eyewear franchises but found them too restrictive; then in June 2000 he started Omega Optical (with zero dollars) when he saw the need for eyecare in Philly’s African-American community, specifically in the city’s Cheltenham section, not far from where he grew up. Tracy shares that “Steve wanted a high-end, boutique, and friendly atmosphere in that neighborhood. So you wouldn’t need to travel all the way to King of Prussia.” When asked about starting Omega with zero dollars, Steve laughs and admits “We were pretty much building the airplane while learning to fly it.” And they forged ahead.

A year after starting, Omega Optical took a big hit to its bottom line after 9/11 because, as Steve remembers, “people just weren’t going out shopping.” Again he and Tracy persevered for several more years. Then came 2008, The Great Recession, and in spite of economic flux, the opening of Omega Optical’s second location—in Philly’s Comcast Center. Reflecting upon the recession, Steve remarks “When the ‘big boys’ stopped expanding, it gave us opportunities … we were able to access tenant assistance to fund the buildout of our Comcast location. Prior to the recession, when we were looking for a Center City (Philadelphia) location we encountered realtors who wouldn’t even take a meeting with us—even though we had pristine financials—or they’d lead us on about a location and then not even inform us after they’d rented the same space to another tenant. We missed opportunities for locations in Liberty Place and on Walnut Street because of this. We even had three investors pull out at the last minute right before we opened in Comcast Center, but we forged ahead. Sometimes when something ‘bad’ happens, a new door opens, and that’s okay.”

With their Comcast location in full swing, Tracy came aboard full-time in 2009. Up to this point, she admits “I really had no idea about the madness….I was only handling Omega’s special events—the fun stuff!” Steve credits Tracy’s efforts on the “fun stuff” with solidifying their brand among existing customers, as well as winning over new customers. “We held events every few months, and always had anniversary celebrations; we did fundraisers and helped scholarship funds;” in doing so Omega created a stellar reputation while also weaving itself into the community.

Omega enjoyed relatively smooth sailing for several years; then came 2020 along with COVID-19, lockdowns and uncharted territory. “COVID was a game changer because it forced our hand …for years we believed [wrongly] that we couldn’t sell eyewear online but without the e-commerce option, we really were like a rudderless ship.” recalls Steve. Fortunately, online retail had evolved from people’s initial apprehensions about online shopping to the point where “click and order” became second-nature. However, retail for eyewear had largely remained a brick and mortar affair, because virtual fitting tools hadn’t yet been developed, and also because some elements of purchasing eyewear required human interaction. “When Comcast Center [and Omega Optical’s center city location] shut down we knew we needed to pivot, and fast.” So Steve and Tracy partnered with Optical Near Me to launch ,phillyglasses.com and became Philly’s first omni-channel eyecare provider—now offering their clients the convenience of ordering online only (replete with Omega’s stellar customer service), ordering in-store at their Cheltenham boutique, or a mix of the two. Omega’s Cheltenham boutique remains as it has for 22+ years but their Comcast Center location has transitioned from brick and mortar to click and order.

Omega Optical will continue offering its usual broad selection of products, and dedicated, personalized service, “whether that client is on government assistance or a wealthy celebrity,” because Steve and Tracy listen to their clients and give them what they want. With that level of commitment, it’s not surprising to hear Tracy say that “many of our customers have become family over the past 22 years.”

Steve adds “We’re here to help you develop and expand your eyewear wardrobe….some days you feel differently, and some days you dress differently. Just like you wouldn’t wear brogues to play basketball or sneakers to boardroom meetings, you should have appropriate eyewear for different situations.”

From their start, Steve and Tracy—both of whom have lost multiple family members to cancer—have been committed to giving back, and they’ve remained consistent in their charitable endeavors. So it’s not surprising that Omega Optical has become a Corporate Legacy Sponsor. Omega’s relationship with Legacy of Hope is rooted in Steve and Tracy seeing many of their friends and clients involved in Legacy of Hope fundraisers. This led to Tracy meeting Mike Rowe at the PHL24, after she came down to support her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister, Kimberly Reed, who was climbing the steps. On the heels of that Steve and Tracy started volunteering to do grocery deliveries for Legacy, even making that experience a teachable moment for their young nieces. They took things further by making Omega Optical a proud Corporate Legacy Sponsor with Legacy of Hope.

Omega Optical is a mom-and-pop shop; so it might be considered an underdog in the eyewear industry. But don’t be fooled. Omega’s size allows Steve and Tracy to provide a level of customer service that the big corporations in the industry can’t match: meticulous follow-through, attention to detail, loyalty to their customers; “it’s more than a transaction, it’s a relationship.” explains Tracy, elaborating further “Even with all the convenience offered by online shopping, there are times that people just want to buy from people, human to human. When you know there is a person behind your online transaction, you feel better, especially when they’ve taken the time to get to know you and they know they’ll get that follow-up support.” Given that they are fast approaching their 23rd year in business, it’s a safe bet to take them at their word. Cheers Steve and Tracy! Here’s to another 23!

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Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.