Lafont Trunk Show Invitation

What is a trunk show?

A trunk show is an opportunity for a manufacturer to bring in their entire collection to a retail partner. As much as an optical boutique like ours would love to carry every frame in every color, we get to choose our inventory carefully (PS – stay tuned for an upcoming blog interview with our office manager on how she chooses which frames to bring in the store)!

During a trunk show, we get a limited opportunity to bring in every frame from one of our manufacturers in every color and it is SO fun. This summer, we’re bringing one of our longtime favorites, Lafont Paris who is also celebrating their 100th year in business!

Who is Lafont?

Here is a snippet from the Lafont website about their rich history in eyewear:

“Lafont’s story begins with Louis Lafont in 1923 and the opening of his optical boutique at 11 rue Vignon Paris. The Maison took a pivotal turn in the 1980’s with Laurence and Philippe Lafont introducing their iconic frame – GENIE. Today Thomas and Matthieu, fourth generation the of Lafont family, head Maison Lafont, where independence remains a pillar of the brand.

Together they are committed to the future ensuring eco-responsibility in their products and services.

Lafont is full of color and Parisian style. Signature colors and patterns are combined with seasonal shading forming unique and exclusive designs. Evidence of the authenticity of French eyewear expertise and French manufacturing found in the unique combination of artisanal craftsmanship and technology that is fundamental to the House.
One passion guides our collections: a beautiful product made with care and attention to detail.”

With over 500 additional frames in stock, we hope that you join us for return of the annual Lafont Trunk show!

Your Invitation!

Welcome Dr. Squires!

Dear Patients,

We are extremely excited to announce the addition of a new optometrist to the team at Binyon Vision Center.  Dr. Patrick Squires will start seeing patients on April 24th and have availability on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  

Dr. Squires grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry with honors.  He has spent most of his career working in community health clinics in Seattle.  Dr. Squires helped establish a diabetic clinic for the Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Clinics, where he did retinal screenings.  He volunteered with UW Faculty and medical students, “Sight Savers”, and local health fairs including Seamar’s Latina Health Fair. He was also a past director and a volunteer at the Millionair Club Eye Clinic in Seattle. 

Dr. Squires’ wife is from Glasgow.  While pursuing her, he spent four years working abroad in Germany and Scotland.  During his time in Germany, Dr. Squires set up contact lens clinics as a civilian for the Department of Defense.

Dr. Squires’ son attends Fairhaven Middle School, and his wife is an Occupational Therapist for the Opportunity Council.  In his free time, Dr. Squires travels the I-5 corridor driving his son to his next soccer match.  Being an avid baseball fan, he is a season ticket holder to the Everett Aquasox, and frequently attends Bellingham Bells games.  Dr. Squires considers himself fortunate to have worked with many exceptional clinicians, and caring individuals, throughout his career. He has great respect for Dr. McEathron and is excited to join Dr. LeClaire and Binyon Vision Center.

Dr. McEathron will be working two days a week in June and on Wednesdays in July until he hangs up his ophthalmoscope- except for occasional vacation fill-in for the other doctors!  We wish him all the best in his retirement.


Dr. Heather LeClaire and the Binyon team

Patient Appreciation Month

Each of you who trusts us with your eye health and glasses needs are invaluable to our business. For patient appreciation month we celebrate YOU. Thank you for your support.

Our community’s support of local, independent businesses is above and beyond. Inspired by the “Think Local” campaign – we’ve put together a drawing with prizes from some of our favorite local businesses and multiple ways for our patients to enter! This year we’re going bigger – more prizes and more ways to win!

Here are the ways you can earn entries to the patient appreciation drawing:

  • Stop by the office and request an entry!
  • Bring by your spray bottle for a refill for two entries!
  • Bring in used contact lenses and packaging for recycling for two entries
  • Purchase a 3, 6 or 9 month supply of contacts = three entries
  • Purchase new lenses for your frame = three entries
  • Purchase a plano (non-prescription) pair of sunglasses = three entries
  • Purchase a year supply of contacts = five entries
  • Order a new complete pair of glasses = five entries

And now the best part! The prizes!

  • A pair of Ovvo frames- your pick- and a free set of lenses = one complete pair of glasses!!
  • Gift certificate to Binyon Vision Center
  • Custom 5 x 7 painting by local artist Ben Mann
  • Gift certificate to Lockbreaker Escape Rooms
  • Gift certificate to Pure Bliss
  • Local artist Phoebe Wahl gifts
  • Cute but Crazy Socks
  • Gift certificate for Village Books
  • Aslan Brewing Co swag
  • And more!

All qualifying purchases will be automatically added to the drawing throughout the month of April and the winner will be notified the first week of May! One prize per entrant. No limit to number of entries.

Thank you again for your incredible support of our business! We appreciate you!

Also! Keep a look out on our Instagram page for a special social media giveaway this month!

Binyon Vision Center – a part of downtown Bellingham history – part 2!

Last month we published a popular blog post interweaving our company’s long history in downtown Bellingham with its newspaper advertisements in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Thanks again to the comprehensive resource,, we have more to share from the 1950’s through the 2000’s.

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1950’s

As Bellingham and the rest of the country moved on from the war, we observed many changes in communities. The baby boom was in full swing and more people were moving to the suburbs and out of the big cities. For this reason and the decline of many of Bellingham’s industries including fishing, lumber and canneries, the local government pushed hard for the new multilane highway (I-5) to run right through downtown and along the waterfront. The hope was to promote new factories and industry into the heart of Bellingham. As we see now, the state road planners had different ideas (Reference: Bellingham – Thumbnail History). There is no record of what the Binyon Optometrists thought of this idea, but it’s safe to say our current downtown would look much different if I-5 had been routed this way!

We find the newspaper advertisements for the 1950’s continue to highlight eye exams as scientific, glasses as precise tools. This particular advertisement catches one’s eye with the line – “Glasses become obsolete too!” Reading further, you see it’s one’s eyes that would change to cause glasses to no longer work well- cleverly emphasizing the need for yearly eye exams:

Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:

There is no question that glasses fashion took off in the 1950’s – thank you Buddy Holly. While men’s frames were mostly basic horn-rims, the ladies discovered the cat-eye. Colors became more available in women’s frames and the additions of set-in gems was common.

Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:

The following lifestyle ads connect good vision to optimal eye health- presenting a problem that can be solved with a quality eye exam and glasses:

A few ads highlighted new, specialty products available from Binyon:

And finally, the newspaper remained the best forum to keep the public updated on store news and events:

One ad that stands out to the current Binyon staff is this one that details the “Binyon Rules of Practice.” We still have this poster hanging in our office today:

Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1950’s. Source:

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1960’s

This decade started with the loss of Dr. J.R. Binyon, the founder of Binyon Optometrists on June 17th, 1960. At this time, Binyon was operating twelve offices in Washington and Oregon, each with separate managers. After his passing, each office sold and the Bellingham office began running under the ownership of Dr. Leroy Freeman, Dr. Binyon’s nephew who had managed the practice since 1950. With the independent ownership, each company began marketing itself. The inclusion of other cities with Binyon offices dropped from each ad, and the number of ads dramatically reduced. In fact, we only found two from this decade. Highlighting the message that your vision affects your daily life and routine eye exams are important – the advertisement is more simple than past years. Note in this decade and the last ad of the 1950’s, the contact phone number changed from 3 digits to 5 digits.

The office posted an announcement with the Bellingham Herald about a new doctor addition, a Bellingham High School graduate who also served in the Army Medical Corp, Dr. Donald Jones.

Binyon Optometrists article in the Bellingham Herald 1960’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists article in the Bellingham Herald 1960’s. Source:

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1970’s

The above heading (advertisements) misleads, as we only found one Bellingham Herald advertisement run by Binyon Optometrists during the 1970’s! This ad promoted the third office move to Magnolia Street, a space Binyon occupied for about 20 years. Now the phone number is a full seven digits:

Binyon Optometrists Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisement in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:

Binyon Optometrists earned a brief mention in the Local News section after a burglary:

Binyon Optometrists Article in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Article in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:

In a Lifestyle article on glasses style, Binyon optician Rae Ann Baunach was quoted as agreeing that the “middle-age” population doesn’t like seeing themselves in bifocal glasses. The article makes the assertion that most people don’t find glasses attractive. We’re all really glad that perception has changed. Note in the photo of Marilyn Monroe the glasses were added with the question – would you ask this woman for a date? Things have definitely changed.

Binyon Optometrists Article in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Article in the Bellingham Herald 1970’s. Source:

Bellingham Herald Advertising in the 1980’s

Activity picked up on the Binyon advertising front in the 1980’s. Dr. Mark McEathron joined the staff of doctors in 1980, announced in advertising space.

Binyon Optometrists Advertisement in the Bellingham Herald 1980’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisement in the Bellingham Herald 1980’s. Source:

Soon after his arrival, Dr. McEathron met Curtis Dye, president of Interconnect Systems, a company specializing in business phone systems. They still both remember cleverly changing Binyon’s phone number to the current 647-2020, seen in all advertisements after 1981.

Dr. McEathron’s welcome advertisement included his specialty in child eye care. A few ads during this decade showed Binyon’s creation of a free vision screening for children, not yet required in schools.

The other emphasis for Binyon Optometrists during this decade was the optical department. This was the first mention of “Binyon Optical” or “Binyon Optical Center.” Fashion, frames and sales made up the majority of the advertisements, definitely highlighting the large glasses style of the time.

The Binyon team mourned the loss of partner Dr. Leroy Freeman in 1985, Dr. Binyon’s nephew, optometrist and part-owner of Binyon Optometrists in Bellingham since 1951.

Binyon Optometrists Advertisement in the Bellingham Herald 1980’s. Source:
Binyon Optometrists Advertisement in the Bellingham Herald 1980’s. Source:

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1990’s

It’s hard for many of us to think of including the 1990’s in a historical overview of Bellingham Herald advertisements, but again we get to see how the decade had a specific look. Binyon Optometrists, Binyon Optical rebrands as Binyon Vision Center. At this time, the Herald was the foremost source of local news and a feature in the Local section about the most recent move to the corner of Garden and E. Magnolia was a big deal. Even though the rebranded name is noted as “Binyon Vision Clinic” (not exactly), this is a great article to promote the new location.

Binyon Optometrists Article in the Bellingham Herald 1990’s. Source:
Binyon Vision Center Article in the Bellingham Herald 1990’s. Source:

Advertised opportunities hoped to bring patients in to see the new office location with a few special events in this decade. Don’t miss the mention of Terry’s lattes – Bellingham has been espresso lovers for longer than most of the country!

Bellingham Herald Advertising in the 2000’s

The 2000’s proved the last presence of Binyon Vision Center advertisements in the Bellingham Herald. Smaller vertical oriented ads highlighted the staff, new products and the services offered at Binyon:

There is no doubt clip art was popular in this decade, we see this in these horizontally oriented advertisements for the optical department:

The opportunity to record Binyon Vision Center’s journey in Downtown Bellingham through these newspaper articles has been a privilege to share with you all! If you haven’t, please check out the first blog in this series with the advertisements from the 1930’s and 1940’s. We love our community, are thankful for the rich history we have here and are excited to continue the tradition of excellence in eyewear and eyecare for many many more years!

Important Announcement on Dr. McEathron’s Retirement

February 27, 2023

Dear Patients,

With a mixture of joy and sadness, we announce Dr. Mark McEathron’s 43 years of service at Binyon Vision Center will be coming to an end in 2023.  Dr. McEathron has faithfully cared for patients in Bellingham since September 1980.  The transfer of ownership to Dr. LeClaire in September 2021 has been very smooth and he has full confidence in Binyon Vision Center’s future in providing quality care for the eyes of Whatcom County.

He is thankful for the many patients and families with whom he has built relationships and is honored to have cared for two and sometimes even three generations.  The ability to help each patient see their best has been an extremely rewarding career.   In his retirement, he looks forward to more travel with his wife, Mary, and spending more time with his seven grandchildren.

The Binyon team will be looking for a full-time replacement optometrist for Dr. McEathron.  He will be available part-time to schedule appointments for the foreseeable future.  Please call for availability and we will announce his last day on our website along with an introduction of our new doctor.  

We offer our endless thanks to Dr. McEathron and wish him all the best in retirement!


Dr. Heather LeClaire and the Binyon team

Binyon Vision Center – a part of downtown Bellingham History

Binyon Optical Company was founded in 1911 in Seattle then quickly expanded across Washington

bellingham optometrist office historical 1930's
First Binyon Optical location – 1116 1st Street in Seattle, photo estimate 1913, collection of Binyon Vision Center

Dr. James R. Binyon opened the first Binyon Optical Company in 1911 on First Avenue in Seattle. He went on to open several other offices in Everett, Tacoma, Spokane, Richland, Yakima, Bremerton and Bellingham, which opened in 1934. At one time, it was estimated one of every three Washington families wore glasses dispensed by Binyon Optometrists. Binyon optometrists and opticians were trained to be masters of their craft- providing an excellence in glasses and service not found elsewhere. Today there are three remaining operating clinics with the Binyon name in Bellingham, Burien and Seattle, each operating independently.

First Binyon location in Bellingham – 107 E. Holly Street – photo approximately 1940 – collection of Binyon Vision Center. See Binyon Optical sign on right side of street, just down from the current Horseshoe Cafe.

Binyon Optical- a presence in downtown Bellingham since the 1930’s

The Binyon office in Bellingham has always operated out of downtown- on Holly, Cornwall, Railroad Avenue and since 1993 on the corner of Garden and Magnolia Street. The Holly Street storefront opened in 1934 with Dr. J. H. Peterson practicing. The office moved to Cornwall Avenue in 1947. In 1951, Dr. Binyon’s nephew Dr. LeRoy Freeman moved to up to practice in the Bellingham office. Binyon made another downtown move to the corner of Railroad and Magnolia Street in 1974. Dr. Terrence Hansen joined Binyon Optometrists as an associate during that time. In 1980, Dr. Mark McEathron joined the practice. When Dr. Freeman passed away in 1985, Dr. McEathron, who was a partner at that time became the sole owner. In 1992, the office moved three blocks east on Magnolia into the former Pietro’s Pizza restaurant. This location offers over 1,000 square feet dedicated to frames displays and off-street parking.  In 2019, Dr. Heather LeClaire joined Binyon Vision Center as an associate.  After two years, she purchased the practice from Dr. McEathron, making her the first woman owner.

Downtown Bellingham Binyon locations and dates – for reference, the top to the bottom of the map represents approximately 0.5 mile.

American History through Binyon Newspaper Advertisements

We have a unique opportunity to look at a business- in this case an optometrist office that provides eye exams and glasses- through the eyes of its newspaper advertisements. While today we have instant access to an internet search of “Bellingham optometrist,” even as recently as the 1990’s, newspaper marketing was vital for being seen by prospective and returning patients.

The Bellingham Herald was founded in 1890 as the Fairhaven Herald, and after a few mergers (just like our city), was renamed the Bellingham Herald in 1903. An amazing online resource – is the largest online newspaper archive – containing archives back to the 1770’s from over 23,900 newspapers including the Bellingham Herald. A search for “Binyon” in the Bellingham Herald brought up advertisements and press releases going back to the 1930’s. The creativity and current event references in these advertisements are a peek into marketing, US history, optometry, and downtown Bellingham. Here is a breakdown by decade of the historical advertisements for Binyon in the Bellingham Herald.

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1930’s

During the 1930’s, years of depression and economic hardship for the United States and Bellingham, Binyon advertisements focused on the importance of eye exams and subtly hinted at the stress on Bellingham resident’s finances. “We do not prescribe glasses unless absolutely necessary” appears in a few adverts.

An emphasis on the science of visual defects, having skilled, registered optometrists, and modernized equipment highlights eye health and vision as an important part of overall health and establishing credibility in the health profession.

An often repeated slogan is “Binyonize Your Eyes,” and by this point, Binyon Opticals had been operating for 20 years in other locations and had gained a healthy reputation for quality and service.

binyon optical optometrist newspaper advertisement bellingham herald 1930's
Binyon Optical Advertisements in the Bellingham Herald 1930’s. Source:

Bellingham Herald Advertisements from the 1940’s

In the early 1940’s the themes of the past decade’s advertisements continued – “Your Eyes Deserve the Best” and “Truly Friendly Service” are notable phrases the company used to distinguish itself. The advertisements include higher quality artwork and reference the entire chain of Binyon plus wisely pointing out the doctor’s name and address for the Bellingham location.

When the United States entered WWII, you see a definite shift in the messaging to relate the importance of having good vision to help the country’s wartime effort. It is fascinating to see the connection of one of the key times in US History to a local optometry’s advertisements. Visual efficiency is even called a patriotic duty and essential to help with wartime production. To note, the Bellingham Shipyard was the largest privately owned shipyard in the US in the 1940’s. They produced minesweepers during the war for the United States Navy.

Other interesting additions in the 1940’s ads are the discussion of children’s vision and its effect on school work:

When the war ends, the advertisements go back to focusing on quality and service. One ad shows the proper steps to taking care of glasses. Binyon advertisements give solid advice for getting the most out of your glasses, the last step being to visit a quality optometrist for adjustments and new glasses when necessary.

binyon optical optometrist newspaper advertisement bellingham herald 1940's
Binyon Optical Advertisement in Bellingham Herald 1940’s. Source:

The quality of glasses is a frequent theme in advertisements, including the importance of taking proper measurements and lens manufacturing. This is also an introduction to the “look” of glasses – the idea they can make you look younger and have style.

Like we see every November on social media – there is an advertisement posted to remember to vote.

binyon optical optometrist newspaper advertisement bellingham herald 1940's vote
Binyon Optical Advertisement in Bellingham Herald 1940’s. Source:

There are also lifestyle advertisements in the later 1940’s – addressing specific tasks and their visual needs and how Binyon glasses can help address. “Enjoy Good Vision… Enjoy Sports More” is one tagline.

In 1947, the office moved to a new location, announced with a press release and a change in logo in some of the proceeding advertisements.

Binyon Optical Press Release, Bellingham Herald 1947. Source:

Stay tuned for advertisements from the 1950 – 2000!

The advertisements from the Bellingham Herald by Binyon Optical Company in the 1930’s and 1940’s are an extensive walk through this important time period, in the most used medium of the day. There are five more decades to cover, with the newspaper advertisements becoming less each decade as other forms of marketing emerge. Stay tuned for the additional treasures to come in next month’s blog post!

A Thankful Crew…

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all virtues.” – Cicero

The Binyon staff took some time to pause and give thanks this month:

To all our patients brand new to our office or who have been coming for years- thank you! We appreciate how you trust us with your eye health and vision needs. We are so thankful.

Throughout the year, our gratitude to our local community inspires us to give back and donate a portion of our profits to local non-profits in our area focused on meeting the needs of our community in so many important ways. See our page here “We’re Thankful We’re Giving” for more information on our community donations.

Opticians In Training – Part 2

Heather, David and Jordan never have fun on the optician training journey

Becoming an optician is a combination of on the job training and study. Our new opticians learn about visual disorders, the physics of lenses and the variety of progressive lens designs from texts and webinars at the same time as they work with patients and apply this knowledge. The combined approach is really important and results in a lot of “a-ha!” moments. The opticians in training listen to a patient’s past experience and might be able to solve problems because of a webinar on freeform progressive lenses. It is great to watch this new crew learn on the way to becoming highly trained professional opticians!

Heather listens to a patient’s thoughts on frame options

We are thankful for many wonderful resources the opticians in training are using including:

ECP Advantage from Walman Optical – on demand and live webinars from the optician training department at Walman Optical.

Optician Works – training videos from Laramy K Optical Lab.

Our product partners including Lauren from Shamir, Addie from l.a. Eyeworks and Feb31st eyewear, Ciara from Lafont, and many more!

The part-time veteran opticians who provide in person training a few times each week – Jill and Margaret!

With strong attention to detail, a desire to learn, and a natural focus on problem-solving customer service – our three new opticians are in just a few months becoming amazing opticians. Becoming a licensed optician is a three year process. The requirements include 6,000 hours of job hours and passing two board certification tests, ABO and NCLE*. We’re excited to support the opticians in training in this goal as they help patients achieve the best vision in their glasses on the way!

*American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examination

Annual End of Summer Sunglasses Sale!

Did you know there’s a rumor that the Northwest has the highest sunglasses sales in the nation?

The thought is we don’t wear our sunglasses for 9 months out of the year so we lose them.

We disagree! Sunglasses are a year round accessory – even in Washington State! How many times has the sun broken through after a February rain shower and you find yourself squinting through the glare reflections as you drive down I-5? There’s no better time to grab a pair of polarized sunglasses than right now at Binyon!

All in-stock sunglasses (except Maui Jim) are marked down 30%! We currently have amazing styles from Lafont Paris, Face a Face, American Optical, Garrett Leight and NW77th. Many come with polarized non-prescription lenses and all can be made into prescription sunglasses! If you wear prescription sunglasses, be sure to ask about our multiple pair discounts for lenses when you come into the office!

For more information on the benefits of polarized lenses – see this previous blog post!

A list of all the frame lines we carry is here!

A recent post about the popularity of Aviators is here!

We are open from 8:00 – 5:30 Monday – Friday! Feel free to call 360-647-2020 to set up an appointment with an optician to look at our sunglasses frames or come on by! We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you find your next sunglasses!

Opticians in Training!

In our not-so-biased opinion – being an optician is one of the coolest jobs. Helping people to see by working with a patient to fill glasses prescriptions is incredibly rewarding. We are so excited to watch our new optician apprentices embark on this journey.

optician apprentice jordan and heather
Heather and Jordan, Optician Apprentice, August 2022

Heather and Jordan both come from strong customer service backgrounds. Being able to listen and help meet patient’s needs is critical for this role. With that foundation, they are working on adding the technical components of the job. These include:

  • Incoming quality inspection of all glasses orders
  • Repairing and adjusting glasses for patients
  • Understanding all the lenses, lens materials, and lens treatment option
  • Understanding the components of frames and which work well for different prescriptions and faces
  • Taking measurements for patient’s glasses
  • Entering orders and working with the lab who makes all our lenses.
optician apprentice takes pupillary distance measurement
Jordan practices taking Heather’s pupillary distance (PD) using a pupillometer.

Proper measurement for a pupillary distance is a critical part of making glasses! We have a small tolerance for error because we have seen patients experience unintended distortion and discomfort with glasses made to the wrong pupillary distance. Our optician apprentices practice taking the pupillary distance for the entire staff and compare to the measurements from our experienced opticians. We troubleshoot technique until they are repeatably and accurately taking the measurements!

This is a fun journey we look forward to sharing with you! If you come in the office in the next few months, you may work with one of our optician apprentices as they are still shadowing or in training. Thank you for your patience as we place a high value on training our opticians to help you find the best frames and lenses possible!