Another one-hour eyeglass center opens in the city; Lawrence deemed very smart in new ranking

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

Eyemart Express general manager Carrie Rausch is pictured at the chain's new Lawrence store, 2540 Iowa St.

After years without a one-hour eyeglass business, Lawrence residents now have two.

We reported in October about a plan for a local startup to open a one-hour eyeglass business in North Lawrence. Now there is word of a bigger player setting up shop in south Lawrence. Eyemart Express opened in the shopping center at 2540 Iowa St. around the beginning of the year.

“We have a state-of-the-art lab,” general manager Carrie Rausch said. “We can produce 91% of all eye-glasses in an hour.”

In the past, most of your options in Lawrence involved picking out a pair of frames at a local shop, and then waiting several days while the prescription lenses were made at an off-site lab. Rausch said Eyemart’s equipment has the capability to make many of the specialty lenses — think prescription sunglasses and bifocals, for example — on-site.

The shop is part of a national chain. Eyemart has about 250 locations across the country. Its closest ones to the Lawrence market are in Olathe and Kansas City, Mo. Rausch said the Olathe store was serving a lot of Lawrence residents, which spurred the decision to consider a Lawrence location.

“We saw a market here, for sure,” Rausch said. “People really like the convenience.”

The company also has a strategy of competing on price and carrying both name-brand frames and a large selection of its house brand, which are sold at discounted prices.

The shop is up and fully running, but Eyemart already has secured space for an expansion of sorts. It has the storefront next door, which it plans to use for an optometrist office.

“We really are looking hard for a doctor right now,” Rausch said.

Once an optometrist locates in the space, customers who don’t have a current prescription can get an eye exam and get their glasses all in a couple of hours, Rausch said.

If you are having a hard time picturing where the shop is located, it is in the same shopping center that houses First Watch restaurant along south Iowa Street.

2540 Iowa St, Lawrence, KS 66046

In other news and notes from around town:

• I have always assumed my glasses make me look smart, although that theory does become strained when I spend an hour looking for them while they are on top of my head. Fortunately, there’s plenty of evidence that there are plenty of smart people in Lawrence.

The city recently ranked very high in a new report listing the most educated cities in America. The online business insurance site AdvisorSmith recently ranked Lawrence as the second most educated city in all of America and ranked the community No. 1 among small cities less than 150,000 in population.

It is not that uncommon of a ranking for Lawrence. The city has landed on these type of charts for years, but it is worth noting now and again. AdvisorSmith used a new set of Census Bureau data from 2018 to study 511 metro areas and compare their various levels of education attainment.

The list is dominated by university communities, but even for a university community, Lawrence has a large percentage of advanced degree holders. Here are a few stats:

• Lawrence ranks No. 3 in the country for the highest percentage of people who have at least a high school diploma or above, at 96.6%. Only Ames, Iowa, and Bozeman, Mont., had higher percentages.

• Lawrence ranks No. 3 in the country for the highest percentage of people who have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, at 56.2%. Ann Arbor, Mich., and Boulder, Colo., rank higher.

• Lawrence ranks No. 2 in the country for the highest percentage of people who have a graduate degree, at 29.3%. Only Ithaca, N.Y., ranks higher.

Add all those percentages up, and we come out as the No. 2 ranked metro area in the country for educational attainment. We are bested by an old friend, Boulder, which is home to the University of Colorado. That community, however, has long since outgrown Lawrence. Boulder is in the midsize category of towns, with population 150,000 to 500,000.

That left Lawrence to own the small city category. Here’s a look at the top 10 most educated small cities:

• No. 1: Lawrence

• No. 2: Ithaca, N.Y.

• No. 3: Corvallis, Ore.

• No. 4: Ames, Iowa

• No. 5: Iowa City, Iowa

• No. 6: Columbia, Mo.

• No. 7: Bozeman, Mont.

• No. 8: State College, Pa.

• No. 9: Burlington, Vt.

• No. 10: Manhattan, Kan.

In case you are wondering, the smartest large metro area was Washington, D.C. Yes, really. The group also provided a ranking of the 50 least educated cities (ouch), but Kansas did not have any communities on that list. The least educated large city was Bakersfield, Calif., where nearly 13% of the adult population has less than a ninth-grade education. That number is 0.9% in Lawrence.


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