How to Shop for Sunglasses

I had some time to kill and needed new sunglasses, my former pair having given out over Spring Hols. There is a shop in Hamra, Scoop Optic, that specializes in vintage sunglasses and eyewear which several friends had recounted good experiences with.  I passed by, spent an amusing half hour, and walked out with new shades (much needed in the Beiruti spring/summer brightness).

This sounds simple but often shopping for jeans and sunglasses proves frustrating.  First off I’m terribly picky, and I second guess and hem and haw to the point of absurdity.  This whole process is worse if a shop attendant persists in “hovering” which seems to be a Beiruti sales associate’s specialty; the polite “I’m fine” code for “Leave me alone” that generally suffices in the States is useless here.  And I seem to always have a specific color, style, or some other minutia in mind that further complicates the purchase.  Needless to say I was dubious about whether or not my venture at Scoop would be successful.

I was the only customer in the shop which can be problematic but in this case meant I could try on different ideas with only the shop keeper’s comments to deal with (doubly nice due to the shop’s diminutive size - maybe 6’ by 6’, maybe…). Said comments were, actually, both amusing and helpful.  There is something about a proprietor passionate about his wares and Mr. Hamdan, the owner of Scoop, sets a clear objective to help you find the right pair of sunglasses. We discussed how the ideal pair of sunglasses should allow for fifty percent of one’s face to show above and below the rims, which colors and frame styles communicate simplicity versus power, and  the importance of sometimes pushing past a usual style or mindset.  He tested each lens to show me that it met proper standards for UV protection. I tried on everything from Jackie O inspired cat-eyes to standard Ray Bans to 50’s house wife bug-eyes.  And his sales man’s intuition knew when to leave me be to try on the final three pairs over and over (and over) again to make up my mind. I spent a little more then I normally would and walked out with Aviator style Carreras, perfect for my impending outdoor ventures this summer, and slightly decreased anxiety about future sunglasses purchases.

Photo Credit: Sarah Shmaitilly, in Beirut Syndrome, February 2016