A community optician honored by the National Assembly of Quebec for a donation of $1M

Over the past 15 years, optician Philippe Rochette’s vision to make prescription eyewear more affordable has raised $1 million in donations for local community organizations across the province of Quebec.

On Wednesday, the small business focused on the social economy was recognized and praised in the National Assembly of Quebec for this achievement by the riding deputy Richard Campeau.

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Campeau thanked the team behind Bonhomme à Goggles for their “dedication to providing fair eyewear.”

Rochette says he is touched by the call and adds that the success of the giving back business model is due to the community it serves.

“I wouldn’t have a million dollars today if I hadn’t given back,” says Rochette.

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“The fact that we give the money back to the charity is what makes us grow.”

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Based in the Mile End neighborhood, what started as a small business has grown over the past two decades to service 65 locations on a weekly basis.

Over the years, Rochette says the mission has never changed: to sell prescription glasses at affordable prices.

“Like affordable food and affordable housing, we need places like this to have access to basic needs,” Guillaume Grenon said as he tried on a new pair of glasses.

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Designer eyewear can easily cost $300 at a regular retail store, according to Rochette.

At Bonhomme à Goggles, the staff aims to save you as much.

Frame prices for those who need them can start as low as $20, but all others are $69.

“No matter what they choose, they’re all the same price,” says Rochette.

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For each pair of glasses sold by Bonhomme à spectacles, $10 of the sale is donated to one of the 100 partner community groups.

Last year, the program managed to raise $116,000 in donations.

For clients like Sophie Pascal, community partnerships are a plus.

“It’s really a win-win,” she says. “The choice is there. The service is there. The community engagement is there. The people are friendly and competent. What else do you want?”

The secret of low cost, according to Rochette, is mass production. The community optician is intentionally behind the ever-changing trends by months, waiting to acquire overlooked frames for a fraction of the cost.

Fortunately, Rochette says style is cyclical.

“You don’t know if it’s April 2019, November 2020 or February 2021 fashion – who cares? It’s still really different? Being three to six months after the novelties, that’s how that you get a good price and good quality,” he says.

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