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MiVT: PRIME Shades

PRIME Shades founders Jake Mahoney, Sam Catalano, and Dillon Lane.
PRIME Shades founders Jake Mahoney, Sam Catalano, and Dillon Lane.(WCAX)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 4:12 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Some businesses in Burlington’s South End are nothing short of spectacular, and that includes one shop making sunglasses themselves.

When it comes to durable, customizable sunglasses, University of Vermont and Champlain College grads Jake, Dillon, and Sam have it down to a science.

“The three of us met through our passion of old cars, and throughout the course of our friendship, we ended up starting a business that started with Jake selling stickers at car shows,” said Dillon Lane.

It wasn’t long until someone took one of his “PRIME” stickers and put them on a pair of sunglasses. Though the lenses were darkened, the guys saw one thing that was clear -- a business opportunity -- and in 2014, PRIME Shades was born.

In the beginning, it only made sense that PRIME Shades operated out of a garage. “We got a lot of space to expand and grow, and the shop, it has extra room for cars and motorcycles, which keeps our hobbies alive and our enthusiasm alive,” said Sam Catalano.

Fortunately for these co-owners, the enthusiasm doesn’t stop with cars, because behind the BMWs is a full-scale sunglasses business. The operation is 100% online. They say there’s upwards of 30,000 pairs in circulation since they opened.

“When you place an order, it comes through to us and we hand-assemble these right here in downtown Burlington. And first, we assemble the lenses. They snap into place and they’re very durable. They’re not just going to pop out on you when you’re wearing them. These are FDA certified impact and shatter-resistant lenses,” said Jake Mahoney.

Once the lenses are in, they attach the arms using special springs that keep the glasses from breaking. “For the price -- 20 to 30 bucks -- you can’t beat these. So you can have five or six pairs for the price of a mainstream sunglass brand,” Catalano said.

And that’s their shtick -- affordable sunglasses with hundreds of combinations for customers to build exactly what they want. “It’s different in a sense that you can choose exactly which colors you would like. Anything from the frame color to the face of the sunglasses, to the arms that they want or the lenses that they would like. You can fully customize a pair, including which bag you would like,” Lane said.

All shipped out in one business day or less, they say. For a classic custom look, without the Ferrari price tag.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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