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“Vancouver-Based Durant Sessions Opens Second Location in Canada”

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I still cannot believe it. Three years after graduation, I opened up my second office along with Durant Sessions. It may be cliche to say that I am humbled and overwhelmed by the love from the community of Vancouver and the industry but I truly am. We celebrated our grand opening on June 6th 2019 with our friends and family. Vision Monday has done a wonderful feature on this special day.

By Stephanie Sengwe

‍Durant Sessions (DS) started as an optical boutique serving the Gastown community in downtown Vancouver. Founded in 2015, the practice didn’t offer any optometric services until Lili Liang, OD, arrived on the scene and partnered with the store in 2017. “I first came on board in May 2017. I was strolling around Gastown with my other OD friend checking out all the optical shops back in December 2016. I stepped into DS and I instantly knew that I want to make this my work space,” she told VMail Weekend.

“I’ve always had the idea to partner up with an optical boutique to create a shopping environment that I’d like to experience. I just never found the right partner. DS never had an OD working with them. I reached out and asked if they wanted to work together and we’ve been in partnership ever since.”

Now, only four years later, Durant Sessions is expanding with its second Canadian location (another Durant Sessions was opened in 2018 in Los Angeles). On June 6, Dr. Liang, along with the staff at Durant Sessions hosted a grand opening party for their new store located in the Mount Pleasant area in Vancouver.

Invitations were sent out to past clients and patients, friends and family as well as other local businesses. The store partnered with Jacques Marie Mage for the opening, who in turn created a custom cleaning cloth for each guest in attendance. The limited-edition gift was packaged to look like a record album.

The new space has been six months in the making and is located at 2539 Main St. The new area consists of young families and young professionals who are fleeing the over-saturation and rising prices in the downtown area.

“It is the next up and coming area where you can find young families, old book stores, and coffee shops with vegan cookies. We are on the corner where the city is building a new tramway and putting a station right across from us. It is also part of the development plan where the City is building more commercial and residential spaces,” Liang explained.

“As downtown Vancouver becomes more saturated and less affordable, a lot of young families and young professionals have chosen the Mount Pleasant area to be their home. The neighborhood still allows them to enjoy the city life as it is only a five-minute drive or 15- minute bus ride from downtown Vancouver.”

While the new location will naturally come with a new demographic as well as some additions to Durant Sessions’ current array of inventory, the overall aesthetic of the store will remain the same. Liang expects the Mount Pleasant area to bring in more families and young children, compared to the downtown location.

So, Durant Sessions Main St. will offer collections with wider variation in terms of pricing to include options that are price-friendly as well as premium ones. The new store will also have lens edging and lens tinting equipment toward the front, offering patients and clients a sneak peek into how prescription glasses and sun lenses are made. In addition, there will be a designated space for Liang’s pre-testing equipment.

Lili Liang and Durant Sessions are also proposing a new business model to aid the OD-optical relationship. Liang has noticed that a lot of optical boutiques don’t have a good OD presence, while a lot of OD offices are unable to create a cool shopping experience. She, as well as the team at Durant Sessions are hoping to get other ODs and practices to consider merging the two, without having to start from scratch.

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“We want to create a brand and culture where both aspects are represented in harmony. We want to offer other ODs the opportunity to come on as a shareholder or business partner and create DS locations in different cities,” Liang stated.

“This business model will also allow ODs to be owners of an optical boutique with a specific culture and brand, enjoy the benefits of being a self-employed business owner without the headache of coming up with a brand, marketing, store design and merchandising. We would like to invite other like-minded ODs and opticians that identify with our culture to join us.”

When Lili Liang joined Durant Sessions in 2017, she came on as a shareholder for the optical dispensary and she has remained the sole owner of the optometric business for both locations. She now embarks on the new journey as an owner of the optical side at Durant Sessions Main St., and she gives all due credit to her wonderful team, who have made the transition just a little bit easier.

She concluded, “None of this is possible without my business partners and the wonderful team. I give them all the credit.”

Source: Vision Monday