Although situated just outside of NYC, Hoboken and Jersey City’s small sense of community and local charm is what makes living here so special. There are countless locally-owned boutiques, businesses, and restaurants that are built and supported by the community. Grino Vintage is a business that was built by a local for locals and prides itself on offering unique vintage, designer frames with an exclusive, customized experience. Owner Tom Pellegrino built his business from an idea that he had four years ago when he repurposed his grandfather’s vintage glasses and now he runs his business utilizing Instagram, word-of-mouth, and his apartment in Hoboken. Read on to learn more about Grino Vintage and how to purchase its unique glasses frames.
Tom Pellegrino had a lightbulb go off in his head when he acquired a pair of old reading glasses from his late grandfather. He loved the unique, vintage style of the frames, but didn’t need prescription glasses himself, so he had the lenses replaced with polarized sunglass lenses. He loved the way the sunglasses turned out, and that they were completely one-of-a-kind. Suddenly, Tom had an idea.
In the beginning, repurposing vintage frames was entirely a hobby, selling them to just family and friends here and there. Tom soon realized, given the hype from his community that this could actually be a business, and Grino Vintage was born. “There is an exclusivity factor to it,” Tom explains. If a client wants to purchase a pair of glasses, he meets them to get their face shape and measurements, then puts together a curated collection for that person to shop. “I love people and love the interpersonal connections that come with the job” Tom explains. “I feel more like a concierge than a salesman. Even if customers don’t purchase something the first time around it’s OK because it is really about building a relationship with my customers.”
As for where the name came from, it has a personal story as well. “The name Grino vintage comes from my last name, Pellegrino,” Tom shared — wanted there to be a personal element in the name of his brand.
The Assortment + Services
As the brand evolved, Tom began to focus strictly on the designer, vintage frames. He wants to ensure that each piece is unique and not something people can just buy at a department store that everybody else has. There is still an exclusivity factor, and most of his marketing is done by word of mouth through the local community.
The majority of the assortment he offers consists of upper-tier designers such as Gucci, Fendi, Dior, Celino, Ralph Lauren, Playboy, and more. “What many people don’t know is that Playboy made a lot of sunglasses back in the ‘80s,” Tom explains. The company made a deal with Opta at the time so each frame is of great quality.
Price points vary, but most of the assortment ranges between $150 and $300. Tom offers a few higher-tier frames for $300–$600, and some even up to $1,000 depending on designer and rarity. Negotiations are welcome but within reason.
Tom wants to ensure that his clients get exactly what they are looking for which is why he will work with each individual to create a customized assortment. Tom does not do prescription lenses, but clients can purchase an empty frame without lenses if they wish. “Some people get just an empty frame and an eye doctor can put in prescription lenses for them,” Tom suggests. Tom also offers repairs for free. Some clients can even bring their own glasses to Tom and he will have brand new polarized lenses installed for a very reasonable price.
How to Purchase
Tom constantly buys new frames and keeps about 20-40 glasses in stock at all times. Interested customers can reach out and DM @grinovintage on Instagram to view the current assortment. If clients feel comfortable, they can meet Tom to discuss their desired style, shape, and fit for ultimate satisfaction.
Customers can pay for their frames via PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle, but “cash is king,” as Tom said.
Tom also has a great relationship with the owners of Vintage on First, so there will occasionally be an assortment of his frames available at the shop, as well as at Spesh, the hair studio on Washington Street.
Follow @grinovintage on Instagram for updates on pop-up shops and to inquire about the current offering. Grino Vintage is based in Hoboken, New Jersey, but all clients are welcome.