Vintage cars, antique furniture, hand-embroidered silks, we are irresistibly drawn towards beautiful things from the bygone era, made with attention to detail and loving care. Because, even in this world where everything is about being bigger, better and faster, there is something to be said about objects that have been crafted slowly, the time honoured way. We at S R Gopal Rao, therefore, decided to travel back in time by creating a ‘Founder’s Room’ to mark our 75th year of retailing fine eyewear.
Our latest ‘optical concept store’, the first of its kind in the country, pays homage to our humble origins by showcasing tools of the trade that our founder Mr. S R Gopal Rao used to use. Even then, S R Gopal Rao had a reputation for retailing only the most advanced and accurated eyepieces of the time, and each of these tools was exclusive to our brand. These in-house tools were used to fit lenses onto the frames, manually.
On display in the store is a rather menacing looking instrument - an axis marker, from the 1960s and the decades before. The axis marker, as the name suggests, was used to mark the axis on the lens before before cutting and fitting it into the frame, just so.
Next comes the lens edge polisher, which looks similar to a whetstone used to polish knives. This solid looking piece was actually employed for delicate purposes, to smooth over rough edges and provide a final touch to the lenses before fitting.
Also you must visit and see the branding tool for yourself. This fierce looking object that vaguely resembles a betelnut cutter, was used to brand acetate frames with the logo of its maker. Each frame, when ready, would be heated and slipped into the mouth of the branding tool where it would be embossed with the name S R Gopal Rao, setting it apart forever.
Today, these tools lay unused, just a reminder of a century gone by...when our founder, SR Gopal Rao, took over the optician-and-watchmaking business that his father had traditionally run, and set out on his own. He spent a few years setting up shop in Commercial Street before moving to NR Road, where our store still stands today. In a decisive move that has paid rich dividends he decided to focus on selling eyewear alone. He prided himself on having the most sophisticated tools of the
time, so our clients only had the best quality lenses and frames.
Happy clients continued to come back in droves, and in the past, SRGR sold popular homegrown brands like Montex, Rajni, Elite and others. And, decades hence, when the markets opened up in the early 90s, we continued to innovate. We were one of the first opticians to bring international brands like Ray Ban and Persol to India and Bangalore. Do drop by and take a walk through our ‘Founder’s Room’ to browse through vintage frames and see how eyewear trends have changed across time. And, yes you can also stop and stare at a ‘handmade’ grandfather clock that continues to keep time.