Eclipse glasses prove to be big business

  • Fourth-graders at Clardy Elementary School in Kansas City, Mo., practice the proper use of their eclipse glasses Aug. 18 in anticipation of Monday’s solar eclipse. Schools around the country preparing for the solar eclipse are reacting in a variety of ways, with some using the event for a full day of science lessons and others closing to avoid the crush of crowds expected in their towns. AP

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 photo, Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City in preparation for the Aug. 21 eclipse. Eye doctors urge strict adult supervision for eclipse watchers under 16 years old. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP) Scott G Winterton

  • A sign advertising eclipse glasses is seen at the Idaho Falls farmers market Saturday. The sleepy town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. has a population of 60,000, but officials are bracing for up to 500,000 visitors. Post Register via AP

Washington Post
Monday, August 21, 2017

Are you ready for the eclipse? Do you have the right eyewear to view it? If not, there are plenty of small businesses standing by to help.

Unless you’ve been somewhere off the planet recently, you’ve probably heard that this Monday all of North America will experience an eclipse of the sun. Some areas from Oregon to South Carolina will see a total solar eclipse. Other parts of the country will still see its partial effects. It’s the first time an event like this has happened in the past 38 years so it’s generating a lot of excitement. And dollars for a few smart retailers.

Like ABC Trophies in Summerville, S.C. They sold about 1,000 pairs of special eclipse glasses in just 67 minutes earlier this week.

“We weren’t expecting this. We can’t believe it,” Betty Lyon, ABC’s owner told the Summerville Journal Scene. “This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for many of us.”

Ever the entrepreneur, Lyon saw the soon-to-be-darkening skies as a bright business opportunity. She set up a table outside her store and started selling ISO-compliant glasses-and the lines of cars waiting to buy stretched around the street. Things got so crazy that two county sheriff’s deputies were called to direct traffic and make sure that people remained in their cars (because even in nice towns like Summerville there are still those who would grab and go, Lyon told the news outlet). Demand was so high that Lyon had to impose a 10-item limit per vehicle. She had help from her daughter and granddaughter, who took orders and collected cash from the waiting cars while also calling out T-shirt sizes because, yes, eclipse T-shirts were also available for purchase. Did I mention she was an entrepreneur?

Summerville wasn’t the only place for eclipse-related profits. WSB-TV in Atlanta found more than 100 people lining up outside one business for glasses. Long lines were also reported outside businesses in Ooltewah, Tenn., and Springfield, Mo., with reports of stores across the Ozark Mountains selling out. Websites like Eclipseglasses.com have also popped up to respond to demand.

The American Astronomical Society has created a list of retailers that are selling ISO-compliant solar-eclipse glasses.