Optical shop brings new vision for old Benny's location

Jul 5, 2024

MIDDLEBORO – The building that once housed the discount retailer Benny’s, a fixture in Middleboro’s downtown for decades, has welcomed a new business: Spectator’s Eyewear. 

The boutique optical shop opened the doors at its Middleboro location on 85 Center St. on Wednesday, July 3. Fourth of July was just around the corner, but owner Lauren Downey already had plenty to celebrate. 

Downey, who already owns a location in Plymouth, said that while Benny’s had a special place in the heart of many Middleboro residents, she feels Spectator’s Eyewear will fill that void. 

And as a Middleboro resident, Downey said being able to give the building a new life was especially meaningful to her. “I want to watch that building transform into something new.”

Spectator’s Eyewear occupies one half of the former Benny’s building. The other half will be occupied by Hatchet in Hand Axe-throwing bar, which is set to open mid-July. 

Although Benny’s is no longer, it will not be forgotten. Spectator’s Eyewear will have an “Ode to Benny’s wall” for Benny’s-related memorabilia that is open for community donations. 

Downey feels her business will be a good fit to fill the old Benny’s space because a third of her clientele already come from Middleboro, which was a big reason why she decided to open a second location there, she said.

When asked what she believes her business will bring to downtown, Downey said “color.” 

‘I am the queen of color. My motto is ‘life’s too short for boring glasses.’” 

Her business will also offer services that other optical shops in the area don’t have, such as the ability to cut lenses to frames in-house and prescribe and sell contact lenses, said Downey. 

Breathing new life into the old Benny’s location has been a labor of love for Downey, however. 

“I have a big imagination, I dream big dreams. I could see the overall picture when I walked into the building, but the journey to completion was more work than I ever imagined,” she admitted. 

Building plans, costs and dealing with 1948 building codes were just some of the challenges that pushed back construction, which was set to be done in the fall, she said.

Now that the doors are open, Downey wants to make the space a place for Middleboro families. “In Plymouth I have primarily geriatric clients. I’m 38 years old with two small children, I would love to get more into the family realm as well.”