What began as a simple connection between an optician looking for frames and a man ready for an opportunity, Windsor Optical blossomed into a thriving business that has served the optical industry for over 50 years. Jay Kitnick launched Windsor in 1971. At the time, eyewear importation and distribution were in its infancy in the USA and Jay navigated the new landscape like a 15-year pro. From its small warehouse in Riverton, NJ Jay used his connections, investors, and business acumen to amass a following of loyal customers serviced by a growing sales force covering territories in both North and South America.
A little more than a decade after Windsor opened its doors, Jay’s son Ken joined the family business bringing with him a fresh set of eyes and an eagerness to grow. Continuing to carve out their spot in the marketplace amid growing competition, Ken, Jay, and Ellen took many trips to the European eyewear manufacturers in Northern Italy and Northern France and hand-picked the latest eyewear fashions to offer their customers in the states. As eyewear production was still a cottage industry in Europe where frame assembly often occurred in individual homes and garages, the team met with manufacturers wherever they could, helping to design and create what Windsor became known for: styles that sell.
In true family business fashion, the others followed. Ellen, while a founder and also while in graduate school, became Windsor’s first secretary answering phones, typing letters and sending faxes. Jay’s mother Mollie worked every day opening mail, entering payments and performing Windsor’s banking for over 30 years. Jay’s son Glenn joined to manage the larger office and warehouse, while covering operations and logistics.
The family business perseveres today as Windsor Eyes, Inc. under the reins of Ken Kitnick, President and CEO. Still located in South Jersey, against the odds of big eyewear, consolidation, and a shrinking independent market, Windsor Eyes continues to be a staple supplier to the opticals and opticians who have remained loyal customers for over 50 years.