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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

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Pittsburgh-based eyewear company gets serious about charity

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To any Pittsburgh outsider, the fact that Penn Avenue Eyewear isn’t located anywhere near Penn Avenue might make about as much sense as the Port Authority’s bus numbering system, or how streets here have a funny way of casually turning into staircases.

But even most Pittsburghers would be at a loss to explain why a company called Penn Avenue Eyewear would be located on the North Side. The fledgling online retailer of locally designed glasses frames started out as an optical lab on Penn in the Strip District, but recently moved its operation after establishing a large retail presence online.

“We officially launched in May. We’re really just starting out,” says Caitlin Northup, the company’s creative director.
While the company has quickly gained traction as an online retailer, Northup thinks its new charity initiative could help put the company on more Pittsburghers’ maps. Last week, Pen Avenue Eyewear began allowing customers to choose a charity to receive 10 percent of each purchase.

“We’ve been giving to charity and doing some special events. We got to thinking about it more and we wanted to put the choice in our customers’ hands,” Northup says.

Currently, the list includes seven local and national charities, but Northup says she hopes that list will grow with customer input.

“The more the merrier at this point,” she says. “I’d love to get to the point where we have so many charities that people can search them by name or location or anything. I want to completely open it up so people can find something which means something to them.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Caitlin Northup
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