Jim Williams and Kristi Kessler-Williams had more office and storage space, and increasing their exam rooms from two to four, in mind when the Eye to Eye Optometrists Inc. owners moved from the location on Muldrow Street to Promenade Street.
The Muldrow location was 1,300 square feet, whereas the new location at 321 W. Promenade, the former home of the Arthur Center, is about four times the size at 4,800 square feet. Jim Williams said they took the building interior down to its bare bones before building it back up again. The Promenade location first opened for business January 2018.
“It’s (been) a huge growth for us — we doubled our number or exam lanes, we tripled our amount of space to display glasses and we’ve added additional equipment we didn’t have room for before. Most importantly the OCT, the optical coherence tomographer, which is like an MRI of your retina. It’s amazing,” said Kessler-Williams.
She said Eye to Eye also has retina specialists who rent space to do their work, along with an opthamologist who does cataract surgery and other complicated eye health issues. “It’s all been well received,” Williams said.
Jim is a dreamer, Kessler-Williams said. He looked at all the trade and design magazines for interior design and product display inspiration. Approximately 98 percent of the materials and work to refurbish the Promenade location were purchased from Mexico vendors, which the pair said was important to them. Updated features were sourced from wood sold by Richard Petty at Greener Lumber, and built by Chris Doolittle at Doolittle Woodworks LLC. Benches in the waiting area, the service bar where patients have their glasses fixed or sized and the conference room table were all sourced and built by Petty and Doolittle, assisted by Williams and Kessler-Williams.
“One of the goals was to get everything we could here,” Williams said. “The only thing we bought that was not local was drywall because we had to have a special size. … We wanted to do that as part of the community was source everything we could (in Mexico).”
Eye to Eye is able to store contact lenses, so if a patient needs a year’s supply, they are able to provide it right away. The staff can also cut lenses to fit a patient’s preferred frames. Williams said they’ll order a round lens puck in the needed lens prescription, which they’ll then machine in-house. Williams said they don’t really keep a selection of pucks on hand, but will order them once they know what is needed. So glasses will take around a week from selecting frames to delivery of lenses and their shaping.
“We were able to do that before, but we were literally on top of each other,” Kessler-Williams said about doing the lens shaping work at the Muldrow location. “We were rubbing up against each other, and now we’ll miss each other. We’ll go all day and I’ll not see my lab person or my front desk person.”
The pair and their family have lived and worked in Columbia and St. Louis before returning to Mexico in 2000. They knew they wanted to eventually return to Mexico to open their own business. We’re both brick plant kids, Kessler-Williams said. They are both graduates of Mexico High School. Williams’ parents still live in Mexico, while Kessler-Williams’ parents live in Columbia.
“I think after you live in St. Louis and commute from your apartment to your clinic before cell phones and you had to bring a book, and you would sit on (the highway) for half an hour every day, it didn’t take long to realize the joy … of living in a community where you have friends in every realm of life — our tire people, your physician, your bankers,” Kessler-Williams said. “You see them professionally and you also see them up at The 581 and you have a drink together. It’s a community feel, and you’re not a number.”