#SHOPSMALL: MEET PAUL Battiste owner of Caserta Eye
November 13, 2020
During the month of November we’re highlighting small business owners in the neighborhood to encourage you to #shopsmall this season and always. For our next business, we’re putting the spotlight on Paul Battiste, owner of Caserta Eye on Eighth Avenue.
Caserta Eye carries some of the city’s most unique vintage eyewear along with trendy and prescription glasses. Owner Paul Battiste is a long time business owner and local resident, who brims with New York stories that will remind you why in-person shopping is so much fun. Stepping foot into Caserta Eye, you’ll immediately feel like family.
How did Caserta Eye get started?
I started the process in late 2010 and Caserta Eye opened in the summer of 2011. The name “Caserta”was inspired by the southern Italian city my grandparents were from.
What made you want to open an eyewear store?
I had worked in the eyewear industry for over two decades at the time, and always thought about opening my own store. Being a vintage enthusiast, I wanted to offer a selection that would combine both current, popular brands and new old stock (never worn) frames from the past 100 years.
How do you stock/source your vintage eyewear?
In terms of current brands, I follow the trends, and I go to all the major eyewear shows to stay up to date with the industry, what direction it’s going, as well as any new technology attached to it. As for the vintage, I have gathered a large collection over the past two decades. Fashion trends work in cycle, and it’s interesting to see how certain styles that were popular in the 60s-70s make a come back now.
You’ve loaned a lot of eyewear to celebrities and movies, could you tell us who’s the latest to sport a pair of Caserta Eyewear glasses?
Among other things, I’m known for my discretion, so I’ll pass on that one! But in any case, I’m very honored and humbled when I see my eyeglasses on the red carpet, in movies or used for photoshoots.
You’ve been in the Meatpacking District for a long time, what initially drew you to the neighborhood?
I like the energy of the Meatpacking, the fact that it’s at the junction of the West village and Chelsea. There is a great versatility of people, between the tourists, the old timers and the constantly evolving makeup of the neighborhood.
What’s trending in eyewear?
What’s trending right now is a replication of some of the 90’s classic eyeglass frames that incorporates a touch of modern with steampunk flat base lenses.
Favorite pair of glasses in store at the moment?
This frame from the 70’s is by Christian Dior Monsieur (for men). Let’s just say it’s a powerful frame that commands respect! And it’s gangster!
Why is it important now more than ever to shop small?
During these uncertain times, small, independent stores rely a lot on customers. The pandemic hit us really hard, and the road to recovery will take time. We’re lucky and grateful to have a significant amount of return customers, and I think that part of it is due to the unique relationship we build with our clients. That experience we thrive to offer people is what distinguishes us from a product that is bought online. For eyeglasses, it’s also crucial to have a conversation with an optician to understand one’s specific needs, and how to best address them.