Eyes of Faith Optical Opens in Downtown Sharon

SHARON, Pa. – Jim and Amy Schneider found their calling through prayer at home 12 years ago, leading the founding of Eyes of Faith Optical.

On Thursday, Schnieders cut the ribbon on their new boutique in the former Buhl Independent Rifles Armory here, almost 11  years to the day since the company started.

“Last year, at this time, we started to look [to expand]. We wanted to find a space that would work for us and we kind of had our eye on this space,” Jim Schneider said, and the company moved into the space in early April.

Jim Schneider is the president of Eyes for Faith Optical, while Amy Schneider serves as optician, frame designer and vice president. The Schneiders have used the business’ success to help with missionary work across the world.

“The purpose is to give the gift of sight to those in need all across the county,” Jim Schneider said. “The passion piece was just reflecting the love of Christ in the optical marketplace. And the style was designing beautiful eyewear that has a purpose behind it, too.”

Since the company has been operating for over a decade, the Schneiders didn’t have to invest into the expansion. After receiving approval, they moved some of their product to Sharpsville Avenue from their distribution center in Sharon. Despite the local connection, Eyes of Faith products can be purchase across the country.

They also have a partnership with Delilah Rene, host of the syndicated radio show “Delilah.” Eyes of Faith designed four lines of frames for her, with proceeds given to Point Hope, Rene’s nonprofit, which aims to help foster children in the United States and underprivileged children in Ghana. Recently, proceeds of sales were turned into a check to fund the construction of a house for widows and orphans in Ghana.

The business has been successful, but prior to the move, Amy Schneider was working out of a bedroom in their home. In addition to the needed space, the boutique was a way to build a connection with the community.

“[Opening the boutique] was the next natural step in the progression of growing the brand, giving our community a brand showroom to come in and visit,” she said. “[They can] learn more about what we do in our ministry, our business and our missions around the world.”

JCL Development purchased the armory on Sharpsville Avenue three years ago and is in the process of renovating the 115-year-old building. Jim Landino, president of JCL Development, split the building into residential and office space.

Eyes of Faith sits in a ballroom-style area called the Gallery Room on the second floor, and the upper levels of the building houses apartments and a 6,000-square-foot athletic court.

The open space features a chalk mural on one of the walls and redesigned, weathered-like walls and flooring to keep the historic ambiance of the armory.

The Schneiders already have plans to expand into another corner of the gallery. They plan to move the Eyes of Faith wholesale division into the corner. Plans to hire another optician and a salesperson are also in the works.

“We knew this is where we wanted to be,” Amy Schneider said. “We wanted to be in the heart of the revitalization of downtown Sharon. So much of our lives are intertwined in this community, and we knew that this is where we wanted to be.”

Currently, there are five tenants renting apartments in the building. Landino wants to add more boutiques to the gallery in the future and transform the court into a retail or office space.

“We still have about 16,000 square feet of unaccounted space here that we can do something with,” Landino said.

The armory has sat vacant for several years. Landino said he had to redo wiring and install sprinklers to fit the residential and retail codes. He said the cost to build out Eyes of Faith and a second space cost roughly $40,000.

Sharon City Councilman Carl Sizer said he was glad to see the building find another purpose in 2020, but he’s also excited to see what the future holds for Eyes of Faith.

“It’s great to see a business growing in the city,” Sizer said. “That’s what we want to see, and we hope that continues with other businesses as well.”

Pictured: Amy and Jim Schneider moved Eyes of Faith Optical’s boutique into the former Buhl Armory in downtown Sharon in April.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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