June 20th, 2024

Professional Optical nearing 50-year milestone


By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2022.

Submitted photo Professional Optical owner Dean Plausteiner, his father Bruce and Tina Plausteiner.

For almost 50 years, Professional Optical has been a family business.
In that time, the local business located at 808 1 Ave South has continued to serve southern Alberta and has a clientele that spans generations since those beginnings.
It’s that community attitude combined with the latest technology in vision care that has landed Professional Optical another Best of the Best award for Best Optical Store.
Located in downtown Lethbridge, Professional Optical is a full-service dispensary, providing vision testing, full contact lens services and a huge selection of frames and sunglasses.
“It’s humbling every time it happens,” said Professional Optical owner Dean Plausteiner. “I always say we sell good products to great people. So it reminds me of how wonderful our community is and how great it is to be recognized for doing what we do. We’re now into generations of customers who come to us. It’s humbling.”
It all started back in 1974 when Plausteiner’s father, Bruce, and mother, Peggy, opened Professional Optical on 5th Street.
“A couple of years later they moved over to 7th Street,” said Plausteiner. “Then in 1988 we were one the original stores that opened up in the mall in Park Place. We were there for 10 years and then we moved to our current location back in 1998.”
In 2005 a fire closed down Professional Optical for about five or six months, said Plausteiner.
“Then we were back at it after that,” he said. “There have been some ups and downs, but our family and our business is forged in downtown Lethbridge. My dad started Progress Clothing when he was a teenager and he eventually moved into optical prescription with some people who are still in the industry today.”
In 2011, Bruce was inducted into the College of Opticians of Alberta’s Hall of Fame for his years of service and contributions to the industry in southern Alberta.
Nearly 50 years after they began, those family values at Professional Optical continue. 
“We’re optician-owned and you just don’t find many small, family-owned dispensaries anymore,” said Plausteiner. “My wife (Tina) is part of the formula now. She’s been here for 16 years now helping us along the way and she is an unbelievably important part of the formula as well. It’s just to keep those southern Alberta, homegrown family values.”
The stress of the COVID pandemic of the past two years has been hard on all local businesses, but Plausteiner said Professional Optical remained thankful for what they have while still looking out for the best for the community.
“The reality of that situation was quite difficult,” he said. “But as business owners, you start to count your blessings during those times instead of being concerned about things like business and stuff like that because there are people’s health at risk. You start being more thankful in those types of situations than to worry about yourself. It’s hard to complain about business when somebody else has a story that’s breaking your heart. In our industry in health care, whether it’s semi-medical or not, we lead with empathy here. We’re trying to solve people’s dilemmas and problems and help them see a better world. That’s how we lead. It’s been challenging, to say the least and we hope for a better spring and summer.”
They’ll do that with a new look with Professional Optical currently undergoing renovations.
“We’re going to do a little fresher look and we’re going to be hopefully bringing on some newer technology and offering some new services in the next year,” said Plausteiner. “We are definitely working on always being progressive. We love to think we’re innovative here. We have the technology and we’re trying to do our best to provide the best vision possible. Our new slogan we’re releasing now is ‘See your best and look your best.’ That has been our modus operandi from the beginning. It was always vision first, but if you have to wear glasses you might as well look good doing it.”
That attention to detail has led to repeat business for Professional Optical for the past 48 years.
“In some cases, we’re onto the fourth generation of families we are able to look after,” said Plausteiner. “You develop those relationships along the years and they are like family now. A lot of these people, since we started in 1974, have known me my entire life. So it’s looking after friends and you owe them your best effort and you owe them the gratitude to do the best job you can because of the loyalty they’ve shown.”
With another Best of the Best award, Professional Optical’s customers have demonstrated that loyalty.
“When you’re voted Best of the Best, someone is taking the time out of their day to say they’ve enjoyed what we try to do and if we can put a smile on your face and you enjoy your experience here, that is rewarding,” said Plausteiner. “If somebody says they love their vision, it’s one of those things we truly appreciate and take to heart.”
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out the Herald’s Best of the Best special section in today’s edition that includes all the results in all categories.

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