An Eye and Passion for Business

08
Aug
2017

To understand the passion behind longtime Boulder local, Heinz Ebner, one needs to first learn about his past.

Pregnant with Heinz, his parents came over from Switzerland in 1950 so his father – an Electrical Engineer with optical training – could take a job with Channel 4. They settled and built a house up in Boulder Heights, complete with horses, dogs and chickens.

In 1963, Heinz’s dad opened an eyewear store. As soon as he was legally able, Heinz began to help out.  “I just loved it. I loved everything about the field,” says Heinz. “In addition to my father’s shop, I worked in the eyeglass safety program at IBM during college and then managed an eyeglass manufacturing plant for 10 years.” Eventually, Heinz was ready to go back to the retail side.

Aspen Eyewear opened in 1986 in the Village. At first, Heinz was the only employee. He’d run the store all day, and then work through most of the night cutting glasses. He did this six days a week for two years. At that point, he was able to hire his first employee. The business grew fast from there, and Heinz even expanded into the space next door.

But in 2013, there was a flood that nearly took out the store. Friends, family, and other Village tenants quickly jumped in to help. “I felt so fortunate to have people from near and far help put the store back together,” he says. “It’s hard to put into words the overwhelming gratitude I felt and continue to feel today.”

Aspen Eyewear has been located in the Village since they first opened their doors in 1986. “When looking for a place, people kept telling me ‘location, location, location.’ When I found the Village, I knew it was perfect, but the corner space I wanted to be in wasn’t available. Then, just as I was about to sign a lease somewhere else, the space became vacant and I jumped on it.”

Outside of McGuckin Hardware and Pak Mail, Aspen Eyewear is one of the longest tenants at the Village. Says Heinz, “Shoppers and tenants consider the Village a special place. The grounds look like a garden, and many times, I’ll see people strolling through and simply enjoying themselves. It’s the ambiance and the sense of community that makes the Village a different kind of shopping center than others.”

Today, Aspen Eyewear has seven employees, including his daughter Jen, who has been by his side since 1996 and now plays a key role in the business. “I couldn’t do it without her. She keeps the business going while I get to work with my hands.” Aspen Eyewear is a family business – in every sense of the term. “All of our employees have the same philosophy about customer service, quality and simply living by the Golden Rule. We want our customers to be happy throughout the entire experience.”

“I love the satisfaction of building a set of glasses and then seeing the happiness on our customers’ faces when they put them on for the first time. I get immediate gratification – and that’s a big part of why I love to do what I do.”

A father of three, Heinz enjoys scuba diving, skiing, backpacking, playing and coaching softball, and hiking. Heinz has another passion that might even rival his love of eyewear: Cars. This should come as no surprise given that ‘auto’ was his first word. Right now, he’s restoring a 66’ Mustang.