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J.C. Reiss Owner: I'm Not Going Anywhere

Oldest eyeglass store in New Jersey recently celebrated 120 years in business.

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.

the Mayor's Patch October 17, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Dunphy what happened to the Iron Bar article? It was posted yesterday and it has already disappeared? All the posters on this site are complaining that you are one sided in your writing. It does seem as though you are working for the Mayor. All of the comments on that article were negative towards the mayor and his good friend the owner of Iron Bar. Why are you hiding this article and all of the comments?
John Dunphy October 17, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Nope, still on the site! Sorry to burst your bubble: http://morristown.patch.com/articles/iron-bar-liquor-license-transfer-set-for-oct-24
John Dunphy October 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM
"The Mayor's Patch," I invite you and anyone else to meet me for coffee at a location of your choice. I have also previously extended an offer for anyone with questions or comments to contact me directly at morristown@patch.com or 973-380-3206. I would be more than happy to assuage your concerns, if I can. I look forward to hearing from you.
the Mayor's Patch October 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Why is the article not on the main page as it is more recent?
John Dunphy October 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM
The "Iron Bar liquor license hearing" article was posted at 11:16am yesterday, "Mayor's Patch," before all the debate night coverage was posted to the site. Like all articles on all Patch sites, the newest article will push all other articles further down. But, they are still in the system and available for everyone to read. Hope that answers your question.
they call me mr tibbs October 17, 2012 at 04:00 PM
this place may have been here over 120 years but their prices are insane, like Crazy Eddie
Mr R October 17, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Dougherty does a lot of dirty work and Dunphy does whatever he can to hide it.
Motown Resident October 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM
With all due respect, it's about time the shop owner re-invested in his business. Talk about "debbie downers". For years we've all had to hear about how the banks and bars have destroyed his business along with his neighbor Ginty's, yet up until now neither of them had spent a dime on the upkeep of there businesses. I'm glad he's leaving the 70's with his grey slot wall decor. I wish him great success and hope it inspires Ginty's too modernize as well.
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