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Eyes on the prize.

The eyes are said to be the window to the soul. But for Dr. Ansel T. Johnson, they also offer insight into a patient's overall health." The beginnings of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks can frequently be seen in a patient's eyes," says Johnson, owner of The Vision Salon Ltd., a Blue Island, Ill., eyecare center. Even reading disorders often can be diagnosed in routine exams, he adds.

Since 1990, Johnson's company has conducted eye examinations with state-of-the-art equipment and offered designer frames and contact lenses at affordable prices. However, it's going that extra mile, the 34-year-old Johnson believes, that separates his four-employee firm from competitors. Many of his clients agree.

"My contact lens ripped recently and I didn't have time to get to the doctor's office, 30 miles away," says Vision Salon patron Rita Jastram. "So one of his people drove to my friend's house, not far from mine, and delivered the lens. As far as I'm concerned, Johnson has a customer for life in me."

Johnson hopes to capture more customers like Jastram. Started with a $40,000 bank loan, The Vision Salon grossed $210,000 in its first year, and $285,000 in its second. Johnson's projections for 1993 are $350,000, based primarily on his intensified direct-mail marketing campaign. Making good on those projections, however, won't be easy. More eyecare centers are moving into large discount stores such as Kmart and Wal-Mart, in response to increasing consumer demand for reliable, quick and inexpensive eyecare services. This industry-wide shift puts pressure on small practices like Johnson's to offer, at competitive prices, the type of services provided by the larger eyecare chains.

Johnson says he's up for the challenge. His goal is to "open five or six locations in the future and still maintain a private care atmosphere."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Vision Salon Ltd., Blue Island, Illinois eye-care service
Author:Wheeler, Robyn E.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:300
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