Situated in the heart of St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, Eye Roc Eyewear is a fun, lively business that wears its personality on its sleeve and truly embodies the spirit of independent optical retail. It also has some serious pedigree, being owned by the Erker family, who have been in the optical business since 1879, making them the oldest optical family in the US, according to manager Jason Little.
Eye Roc itself, however, is very much the baby of Little, a California transplant whose love of surfing and ’80s and ’90s rock is evident before you even walk in the door, and whose mission is to “make the patient feel they are the rock star in the room.”
The Erkers opened Eye Roc in 2011, looking to bring affordable, independent eyewear that was fashion-forward to the Central West End. Beyond that honorable mission, however, the store didn’t really become the distinctive destination it is now until Little took over as manager in 2015. “I wanted to make it my own shop… that would reflect the music I like, the eyewear I like and the atmosphere I like. When I go to work at Eye Roc, it feels like I’m going into a part of my own house or into a part of my past that I enjoyed. The posters go back to the ’80s and ’90s, reflecting the pop culture I associate myself with, such as The Breakfast Club and Pearl Jam. The ’80s and ’90s are still very much in fashion, especially in eyewear, so I thought they went well together.”