From left: Julie Brown, O.D., Mike Whiteside, co-owner of Black Dog Salvage and Shannon Zollinger, O.D.
Julie Brown, O.D., and Shannon Zollinger, O.D., are self-styled, "outside-the-box" doctors. But take a look at their latest project, and it's clear they're also the kind to disassemble that box, sand it, stain it and call it something new altogether.
It's that thinking that transformed their mid-90s-era optical center into a novel patient experience, grabbing the attention of both the local Collinsville, Virginia, community and a popular do-it-yourself TV show along the way.
"We have always liked the idea of recycling—making something new from something old—and having a smaller footprint," Dr. Zollinger says. "When we bought our practice (in 2013) it was nice, but not really our taste."
Let the work begin
Designs were dreamed up for a 'green' renovation that wasn't only reflective of their style, but also the surrounding rural landscape—a vision that came to fruition in late 2014.
Out went the uniform optical boards, carpet and generic office furniture; in came hardwood floors, new chandelier lighting and rustic charm straight from the countryside.
Salvaged wooden planks from dilapidated barns, stripped and treated, are the focal point for new optical boards with galvanized piping and old-fashioned box nails welded to hold rows of glasses. Inlayed into the boards are refurbished jewelry tray mirrors, and a custom, locally crafted floor-to-ceiling mirror. Vintage anatomical drawings of the eye—circa 1940—decorate the space between.
"We've always been nontraditional as far as our decorating taste, and we wanted to translate that into our practice," Dr. Brown says. "That was what we were going for without going over the top."
Lights, camera, action
All this hustle-and-bustle caught the attention of a neighboring business, Black Dog Salvage, now relatively a household name thanks to the DIY Network TV show, "Salvage Dawgs." In exchange for all-access filming, Black Dog Salvage offered to make a special addition to the practice.
A three-part filming schedule with DIY Network featured the Black Dog Salvage team and Drs. Zollinger and Brown selecting materials, building and a final reveal at their practice, The Eye Site.
Black Dog Salvage hand-crafted four new dispensing tables, made of reclaimed wood and Egyptian iron to bring together the rustic redesign of the optical center. And America will get to experience that transformation on the new season of "Salvage Dawgs" this summer.
"I think the renovations appeal to patients and staff in different ways," Dr. Brown says. "We didn't want to do something that wouldn't fit the area, and this really fits well here."
Dr. Zollinger: "It's nice to take our strengths and interests to create something that everyone finds interesting. There are definitely a few hiccups, but it's like working with patients. They come in with a problem, we troubleshoot and get to fix it, and everyone's happy with the end result."
Drs. Zollinger and Brown's practice, The Eye Sight, before the Salvage Dawgs makeover.
Drs. Zollinger and Brown's practice, The Eye Sight, after the Salvage Dawgs makeover.
Although about 13% of the U.S. population is Black, they are woefully underrepresented in optometry. They represent about 2% of practicing doctors of optometry and a little over 3% of full-time students in optometry schools and colleges, according to studies. Black doctors of optometry seek to grow those numbers.
A crusader for vision and eye care in local, state and national communities, Patricia spread her love for the AOA across the country. The AOA sends condolences and thanks to the Hopping family for their years of service.
Learn how you can apply or nominate a doctor of optometry for the 2024 AOA Leadership Institute.