Cheap glasses, cheap groceries

This is not a paid or sponsored post, and I have no connection to any of the mentioned companies. None of the links are affiliate or referral links, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Three months ago or so, I got a reminder from my eye doctor that it was time for my regular appointment. We set it for today, June 27.

Less than a week later, the temple-piece of my glasses broke off its hinge. I thought about calling back to see if the eye doctor could work me in sooner, but never got around to it. I made the glasses work, with duct tape and later with Krazy Glue, and they’ve been fine. I take them off a lot anyway.

These glasses have lasted me two years. They were inexpensive, and I don’t mind that they broke a month or two early. I got them online, the first time I’d ever done that, from a company called 39dollarglasses.com. The name of the company refers to the fact that most of its standard single vision glasses start at just $39. Unfortunately, I am a geezer, and once you figure in progressive bifocal lenses, plus anti-glare coating, I end up paying nearly $100 more than that. Even so, it’s substantially less than I used to pay at Walmart.

Today, I drove to Tullahoma for my eye appointment. Everything went fine. My eyes were in good health, and while my prescription had changed just a little it doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about. Everything went quickly; I was scared that I’d have to rush back to Shelbyville in order to make a late-afternoon county government meeting, but as it turns out I had plenty of time.

I decided to stop at Aldi in Tullahoma, something I’d been meaning to do ever since they opened, which I think was last year. I’ve heard of Aldi for many years. I had it stuck in my head that I’d been to an Aldi store at some time in the past, but I now think I was mis-remembering.

I was delighted with Aldi. I will have to shop there more often, certainly whenever I have to be in Tullahoma for some other reason. The prices are great. I used to have some reusable shopping bags, but didn’t have anything with me, so I ended up buying one shopping bag and one insulated shopping bag while I was at Aldi — they were just as dirt cheap as the other merchandise. Fortunately, I had quarters in my pocket, so I could get a shopping cart.

If you’re not familiar with Aldi, one of their most famous cost-saving measures is an ingenious locking system that requires you to put up a quarter in order to grab a shopping cart. You get the quarter back when and if you return the shopping cart to its proper place, on the sidewalk right next to the store. Because of this system, Aldi doesn’t have to send employees out to wrangle carts every hour, and Aldi shoppers don’t have to worry about their cars being dinged.

I really wish Aldi would open a store in Shelbyville — and, unlike some of Tullahoma’s other regional retailers, I think there’s a chance of that. Aldi is expanding aggressively, and a copycat chain, Lidl, is now expanding into the U.S. as well. Both companies are based in Germany.

I came home, unloaded my groceries, and went and covered the county meeting. Later, I got online at 39dollarglasses.com and ordered a new pair of glasses using my new prescription.

Two years ago, I ended up buying plastic frames, and I’ve been thrilled with those. I always hated the little nose pieces on metal frames, and I always thought metal frames were too fragile. I wanted another pair of plastic frames. I ended up getting the exact same model that I ordered two years ago, just in a different color.

Two years ago, I had some trepidation about ordering glasses online, but the process is actually quite smooth. They even have a feature where you can upload a head shot and use it to virtually “try on” different frames.

The one problem I had two years ago was that my prescription didn’t list my pupillary distance (PD), which is literally the distance between your pupils in millimeters. There’s a place for this on the prescription form, but if you go to a traditional optician I think they’ll measure your PD themselves when fitting you for frames anyway. Fortunately, there are how-to videos and even online tools for measuring your own PD, and that’s what I did two years ago.

I could not find a ruler tonight, but I’m assuming that my pupils haven’t drifted apart in the intervening two years, so I re-used the figure from two years ago. I was quite happy with the fit and function of my glasses two years ago, and expect to be just as happy with the new pair.

The total price was a little bit higher than two years ago, but it was offset by a customer-appreciation credit which was still waiting for me, in my account, based on my 2015 purchase. The final bill was about the same.

So I saved money on both glasses and groceries today. I guess that’s something to celebrate.

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