You're looking pretty good for 120.
Of course, a recent $20,000 facelift at J.C. Reiss Opticians didn't hurt. We could forgive the vanity; it's not every day you celebrate over a century in business.
To think, when owner Tom Harrigan got out of the Navy almost 50 years ago and was offered a limited set of career placement courses, he could have stuck with tool and dye making, his first choice. Harrigan soon switched to optical and, "it's worked out for me," he said.
The field has worked out so well, in fact, it has been the Brooklyn-native's only career. After 24 years at J.C. Reiss, Harrigan bought the business 20 years ago.
Tom Harrigan, along with wife Lily, were honored by the town on Oct. 6 for J.C. Reiss' 120 years in business, which began in 1892 in Newark and moved to Morristown in 1940. On hand were the four generations that have been served by the oldest optical establishment in New Jersey, including 101-year-old Linda Corea.
Harrigan pulled out Corea's optical prescription card from 1955, even before he had joined the business. A pair of glasses cost $27.
Times have changed.
But, Harrigan said, even in the face of an increasingly conglomerated industry, where optical monolith Luxottica owns such giants as Lens Crafters and Pearle, his family business has been able to stay successful he said because of its personal touch.
"It's our service more than anything else," he said. "As big as they are, the little guys have better quality of merchandise."
To not just survive but thrive, Harrigan said, "we have to do the right thing, which is go above and beyond."
That includes the recent renovations, as well as regularly trying to stay ahead of the industry on innovation.
It also helps that Morristown is presently enjoying a retail rennaissance, with new businesses joining long-established ones like J.C. Reiss. "The town is booming right now," Harrigan said.
And, he plans on seeing the boom through for the long-haul. "I've been here for 44 years. I'm not going anywhere," Harrigan said.