By Donna Thornton/News Editor
With the closing of Hicks Family Shoes, Moman’s Eyecare – now in its 39th year of business – has the longest tenure of any retail business on Broad Street.
As Moman’s takes on that mantle, some changes are being made in the business that Juanita Moman opened in 1975 on Broad Street, as Moman’s Optical Dispensary.
Being owned and operated by a woman had to mark Moman’s as a unique business back in ’75, just as its longevity is a special trait today.
As if celebrating Juanita Moman’s 90th birthday this month (May 13) were not enough, the business is planning another celebration – a recreation of the ribbon cutting in 1975. The staff at Moman’s hopes to see old friends and new ones at their May 29 ribbon-cutting, scheduled for 11 a.m.
One of those “old” friends will not only be joining the party, she is re-joining the staff.
Sandra Moman Smith – daughter of Juanita and Bob and office manager at the business — said Linda Hall will be returning to Moman’s, renewing a valued working relationship with the family.
Hall worked at the Moman’s location in Albertville years ago, and bought the store when the Momans decided to sell it. More recently, she worked at Gadsden Eye Associates until her retirement.
Smith said Hall has agreed to come back to work at Moman’s in Gadsden.
Moman’s is now looking for an optometrist to see patients in the office.
The Momans’ granddaughter – Smith’s daughter – Dr. Karen S. Vanoy, has joined a practice in Birmingham.
“We’re so grateful for the 16 years Karen devoted to patients in Gadsden,” Smith said.
“Mother’s mantra through the years has been her gratitude for the support people have shown for Moman’s Eyecare,” Smith said. “They’ve placed their trust in us and our experienced staff.”
That staff includes Ginger Belyeu, with 24 years at Moman’s, Jemelle Simmons, eight years, Faye Roe, nine years, and Linda Hall, rejoining the staff after working 17 years at Moman’s in Albertville.
Through the years, Moman’s dedication to providing good customer service and quality prescription lenses has brought loyal customers, and Juanita’s dedication to bringing a selection of the most fashionable frames available has garnered industry praise.
She received the Optica Maestro Award (Master Optician of Italy Award) during a ceremony in the Piazza Vechio, in recognition of 25 years (at the time) of excellence in her business.
Moman was named one of the U.S. Optical Industry’s “50 Most Influential Women” in 2003, and she served as Chairman of the Guild of Professional Opticians of America. In 1979, Moman was selected by the Opticians Association of America as one of the best examples of the use of public relations in small business.
Moman’s career in has afforded her some brushes with famous folks. She got to meet Sophia Loren in 1980 in France, as part of the promotion of Loren’s line of fashion frames.
And in the late 1980s, Penny Singleton, who played Blondie Bumstead in a series of Blondie and Dagwood movies in the 1930s and 1940s was visiting a friend who lived in Fort Payne and lost her glasses.
Her friend brought her to Moman’s to have a new pair of glasses made.
It was a treat for the staff at Moman’s to serve Singleton, but Smith said they find joy in serving all the customers who come to Moman’s for prescription glasses or stylish sunglasses.
While Juanita Moman may have earned more time away from the office, the business she opened almost 40 years ago will continue to meet the standards of service and style she established over the years.