Owner & licensed Optician Jim Lambrou invites the Wesley Chapel community to visit the Sunglass Krate in the Krate at The Grove container park. (Photos by Charmaine George)

The Krate container park in The Grove at Wesley Chapel has added a remarkable new store called Sunglass Krate. 

Opened in September 2023 by licensed optician Jim Lambrou, Jim, his wife Michelle and their son Yianni are originally from Milwaukee, WI, and before moving to Florida in 2008, Jim managed a number of optical stores. He then transitioned to overseeing the labs that make prescription glasses. 

He says, “My associate degree is from the Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland (WI) optician program and my Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees are from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Wisconsin is a non-licensed state for opticians so when I moved to Florida I had to get my optician’s license.” 

Once he moved to Florida, Jim continued to work at a number of different optical stores, which kept him traveling all over the state. Jim says his desire to spend more time closer to his family prompted the idea of opening the Sunglass Krate. 

Jim took over the Krate that previously housed the Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC)’s SMARTSstart program, which moved to another location. He feels the uniqueness of Sunglass Krate and the impressive eyewear collection he has will help him be successful, despite the fact that some retail Krates have had some difficulties. As a licensed optician, he uses some interesting machines that help him give you the perfect fit, whether you want prescription or non-prescription sunglasses. 

“You can only get this type of service at the Sunglass Krate because I hold an Optician’s license,” Jim explains. He says he will adjust your frames to give you a custom feel you might not get at another sunglass store. 

He says, “In Florida, we tend to use our sunglasses a lot and if, after a while, your sunglasses need an adjustment, just bring it back to the store and Jim will fit you again. If prescription sunglasses are what you’re looking for, he can make those for you, as long as you bring him your prescription from your eye doctor. 

At the heart of Sunglass Krate is a cutting-edge machine called the Spectangle PRO, which offers precision measurements for optimal vision clarity — a testament to Jim’s dedication to excellence. Even if you’re not ready for new glasses right now, when you are out and about at the Krates, take a minute to stop by to see his amazing selection and let Jim give you a demonstration of what he can do to make you see clearer than ever before. 

Differences In Quality & Waves 

Jim says, “Often the really cheap ‘gas station’ sunglasses might have slight warps or ‘waves’ in the lenses and your eyes will sometimes detect them. This will cause your eyes to have to make accommodations to try to see past those waves to perceive an undistorted image. Over time, this strain you are putting on your eyes could cause problems.” 

Another machine at Sunglass Krate, called a Lensometer, can see these waves. Jim says, “A lens with no prescription in it will read 0.00 power and a good quality lens will read a steady 0.00, even when I move the lens from side to side on the Lensometer. If I move a 0.00 power lens from side to side and the power reading starts to fluctuate away from 0, that indicates there is a wave in the lens.” 

He adds that in Florida, where the sun beats down a good portion of the year, protecting your eyes from UV rays is very important. “You would think just wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes but not all sunglasses are made the same,” he says. 

So Many Options! 

Sunglass Krate has a large selection of popular brand names and styles to choose from, including glasses for men, women and unisex, as well as for kids. Some of these well-known brands include Oakley, Ray-Ban, Maui Jim, Kate Spade, Costa del Mar, Gucci, Pit Viper, Rex Specs and more. Jim says he offers at least two dozen different brands and more than 600 pair of glasses on display in the store. 

Many of these options are shown on the store’s website, SunglassKrate.com. Jim says, however, that not all of the sunglasses he has in his store are displayed on that website. For example, only two different options for children’s sunglasses are shown on the website, although there are several others found in the shop. 

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to protect your eyes,” Jim says, noting that the glasses in the Sunglass Krate range from $25-$500 per pair, so there’s literally something for every budget. But, if you want the more expensive brands, he offers a number of different payment options, including AfterPay which allows you to make four interest-free payments. 

A great addition to Sunglass Krate’s collection are the Ray-Ban Meta glasses. Jim says that you will see pretty much everyone wearing these glasses in the near future. While wearing these glasses, you can live stream onto Instagram or Facebook, as well as take pictures, answer a phone call and listen to music. 

Sunglass Krate is one of only two stores in the Tampa Bay area to carry Rex Specs goggles for dogs. 

Other unique options at the Sunglass Krate are Rex Specs and Pit Vipers. 

Jim explains that Rex Specs are goggles made exclusively for dogs. You read that correctly. These goggles were made in Jackson Hole, WY, by Aiden and Jesse Emilio, who took their dogs everywhere with them. Their dogs Yaz (an 11-year-old white husky) and Tuckerman (a 7-year-old German shepherd mix) started to develop eye problems. Their vet suggested dog goggles, but the options Aiden and Emilio found were just too bulky. So, they put their heads together and came up with their own doggie goggles, which they called Rex Specs. There are only two retailers in the entire Tampa Bay area that carry Rex Specs — Sunglass Krate and one located in Clearwater. 

Meanwhile, Yianni told his dad he “had to carry” Pit Viper sunglasses because they are the brand that a lot of famous athletes use — and he was right. Some of the athletes known to wear Pit Vipers are extreme skiing pioneer Glen Plake and current and former NFL players like Patrick Mahomes and Rob Gronkowski. 

Jim said that whenever he gets home, Yianni asks him how many pairs of Pit Vipers he sold that day, “looking for his commission,” Jim says, since he was the one who suggested that his dad should carry the brand. 

Pit Vipers were founded in 2012 in Salt Lake City, UT, by Chris Garcin and Chuck Mumford. Their company was formed with $35,000, which was raised through a Kickstarter.com campaign, and they crafted their first pairs of Pit Vipers from surplus military equipment. 

Sunglass Krate owner Jim Lambrou (in back) gave every member of the WCAA 8U Thunder baseball team their own pair of Pit Viper sunglasses. (Photo provided by Jim Lambrou) 

Although the skiing and extreme winter sports communities have helped make Pit Vipers “hot,” the company supports athletes of all kinds by creating sunglasses for everyone, both young and old. 

Jim also supports athletes. In fact, he sponsored the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association (WCAA) 8U Thunder travel baseball team by providing every member of the team (players and coaches) with free Pit Vipers. 

“The kids were so excited to wear them,” Jim says. “One player on the team told me he had wished for Vipers his ‘whole life’ and he was so happy and grateful because he now had a pair.” 

The team’s coaches originally posted the amazing pic on this page of the team wearing their Pit Vipers on the Sunglass Krate’s Facebook page: 

“Shout out to the Sunglass Krate at The Grove for sponsoring our 8U WCAA AB Thunder team! They hooked us up with Pit Vipers for all the boys and the coaches. We are so grateful for local businesses who support young athletes in our community!” 

Jim says that no matter what your age may be, “PLEASE always protect your eyes — and especially, your children’s eyes — from the sun’s UV rays! Prolonged exposure to UV rays modifies lens proteins, leading to cataract formation and worsening eyesight.” 

The Sunglass Krate is located at 5827 Grand Oro Ln, #105. For more information, call (813) 994-6700, visit SunglassKrate.com

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment