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Longtime Cape Cod Retailer Expands into Chatham

American Sunglass on Falmouth's Main Street opened in May, a little more than a month before the Millers opened Sol Optics on Chatham's Main Street.
COURTESY OF AMERICAN SUNGLASS - American Sunglass on Falmouth's Main Street opened in May, a little more than a month before the Millers opened Sol Optics on Chatham's Main Street.

So far 2015 has been a banner year for Charles and Nina Miller, who have opened up two retail shops on Cape Cod over the past two months.

The longtime business partners currently operate a total of nine stores along the East Coast with the majority of those on Cape Cod. Their two latest shops – Sol Optics in Chatham and American Sunglass in Falmouth – focus solely on sunglasses.  

The pair got their start in 1987 when they opened up their first, Coconuts, in Provincetown. Since then they have added to their roster which includes Sol Optics in Mashpee, and Provincetown, as well as Board Stiff in Falmouth, and Provincetown. They also own Sol Optics in Boston and Newport Sunglass Shop in Rhode Island.

All stores operate under the umbrella of COT, Inc., which is named after their three children, Charlotte, Owen and Tessa.

Charlotte and Tessa’s role in the business goes beyond the ceremonial as they are working in the Chatham store which had a soft opening this past Saturday.

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American Sunglass, which is being managed by Scott Fennelly of Fall River, had a slight head start on Sol Optics Chatham, opening in May. Bret Clark is serving as the manager of the Chatham store.

One of the unique features of the Chatham store, Ms. Miller said, is that there is plenty of natural sunlight that will allow customers to try on sunglasses in ideal conditions. Meanwhile, the Falmouth store has the latest in technology with two large-screen televisions showcasing Instagram photos of customers wearing their recently purchased sunglasses.

Mr. Miller was particularly proud of American Sunglass, calling it the nicest of all their stores. “There was a lot of time and effort spent in making this one appealing to shoppers,” he said.

Among the dozens of brands that line both stores’ shelves are Smith, Maui Jim, Michael Kors, Babiators, Costa, Ray-Ban and Oakley.

Both the Chatham and Falmouth stores are primed for the summer season when people will be flocking to the beach and in need of a pair of sunglasses, not just for fashion, but to protect their eyes. Medical research has shown that sunglasses serve to keep the harsh rays from damaging people’s eyes.    

With 28 years of experience in the retail industry, the Millers are just as enthusiastic as they were when first starting out. “What I like about it best, in my position, is no day is ever the same,” Mr. Miller said. “It is always new, different and exciting.”