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New business opening at Southgate Shopping Centre a vote of confidence in Drogheda

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Couple Joe and Marie O’Sullivan live in Stamullen and already run a busy opticians called Swords Eye Centre, and when it came to expanding, it was one of their loyal staff members who sold her hometown well!

“Sinead O’Brien who works for us actually suggested Southgate, because she from Drogheda and she just felt that this side of the town is really missing a lot of different types of businesses. And obviously there is free parking here and it’s right beside the motorway so it is so ideal,” explains Marie, who is originally from Cavan, while her husband is from Peterborough, UK. “So we came up and down a few times at different times of the day, different days of the week and just felt there’s a really nice vibe here, because there always seems to be a bit of a bustle.”

The shop was until recently a fruit and vegetable shop, and now joins a dentist and pharmacy at the south end of the centre.

“We figure everybody has to have their eyes tested, just like everybody has to go to the dentist, it’s just one of those things, and now you can do it together and have a coffee too,” she laughs. “Joe is an optometrist and when we open hopefully in the middle of June, we’ll have another full time optometrist, as well as Sinead and me on front of house.”

The couple feels that there is nothing like the personal service of a small independent business and feel the location will be great for existing customers who had travelled to Swords, or new customers.

“I love that element of localness because one of the women who already works with us is from Swords., and she knows anybody who comes in the door by name; people love to be recognised,” she says. “ And when they come back to time and time again, they don’t want to have to introduce themselves every single time, so that’s the kind of ethos that we work to.

“We are truly independent, we don’t have a turnover of staff and we get to know all our customers and their families”.

Marie and Joe also feel that small does not have to mean more expensive and will maintain quality but try to keep prices low.

“You have to be competitive; nobody’s going to pay way above the odds, just because your independent,” she laughs. “People make more conscious decisions nowadays than ever before with regard to how to spend the money on where they spend the money and are they getting value for money.”

The couple says they will carry a full range of stock to suit all price ranges, from children’s glasses to designer shades.

“We will be obviously catering for PRSI or medical card clients, as well as the children’s scheme, and we will have price points to suit everybody, because not everybody wants to spend a fortune on glasses or there are people who will only spend a fortune on glasses,” says Marie, who has two daughters with Joe, Siofra (20) and Caoimhe (18).

“And we will have a huge range of sunglasses, from Tom Ford to Mulberry, which can also be available for prescription, so why wait until the airport to pay over the odds!”

Marie is project managing the build and fitting, the decor for which she says will be more cosy than clinical.

“We are so excited to get the store open and to start meeting our customers,” she adds. “People have been so friendly already so we know we’ll get a warm welcome.”

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