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Eyewear is Hans

EYEWEAR has been Hans Fiebig’s specialty for 65 years.

Hans Fiebig, owner of Hans Custom Optik on Larchmont Blvd., has had his
shop in this neighborhood for 20 years and he loves it here. “It’s the people in
this area who support my business,” says the impeccably dressed 79-year-old.
“People have gotten to know me here, and I’ve gotten to know how people tick.
I’m too old to move, anyway.”


Eyewear is Hans' Specialty - Larchmont Chronicle

by Lis Peery
April 4, 2008
Larchmont Chronicle

 

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EYEWEAR has been Hans Fiebig’s specialty for 65 years.

Hans Fiebig, owner of Hans Custom Optik on Larchmont Blvd., has had his shop in this neighborhood for 20 years and he loves it here. “It’s the people in this area who support my business,” says the impeccably dressed 79-year-old. “People have gotten to know me here, and I’ve gotten to know how people tick. I’m too old to move, anyway.” Hans

One wall of his optometry shop, at 212 N. Larchmont, is lined with luxury sunglasses; the rest of the shop features high-end, of-the-moment eyeglasses.

When asked how the eyeglass business has changed since he started outfitting people with them 65 years ago, Fiebig says, “Everyone marches to his or her own drummer now, and we help guide people to their dream of themselves. We all have an idea of what our glasses should say about us to the world.”

When he was growing up in Breslau, Germany in the 1930’s, Fiebig dreamed of coming to America. He was, as he says, “a kid who wanted to do something with myself,” and the U.S. beckoned as a place where he could achieve anything he set his mind to. But by the time Fiebig was ready to emigrate, at age 21, the United States was fully embroiled in its Cold War hysteria, led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Because he had worked for Germany’s Russian occupiers, Fiebig was deemed a Communist and denied entry to this country. So Feibig and his wife Frida, pregnant with their first child, decided that he would emigrate to Canada and that she would follow once he was settled. Feibig’s train, packed with immigrants, derailed in Winnipeg during an ice storm and he found himself stranded in a YMCA. A Methodist minister showed up to welcome the newcomers to Canada. When the minister heard that Fiebig was an optician, he told him, “Wait here. I think I know of a job for you.”

Fiebig stayed in Winnipeg rather than move to the farm his relatives owned in the countryside. “I was wearing a trench coat when I landed in Canada. That’s not exactly a farmer's outfit,” Fiebig says, his eyes twinkling behind his gold Alain Mikli frames.

When they were ready to move to America—McCarthy wasn’t re-elected and the country’s anti-communist fever had died down—Fiebig and Frida, who now had three children, knew they wanted to live somewhere warm. “It was either Florida or Los Angeles,” he says. “Once we read about the hurricanes in Florida, we chose California.”

Eventually, Fiebig opened a shop in Beverly Hills, making glasses for clients like Elvis, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Robert Evans. “Elvis always paid on time. He learned that from his father, who wouldn’t go to bed without paying his bills.” Sammy Davis, Jr. was hurt by bad press, says Fiebig, and the optician learned to stay out of his way when there was a less-than-flattering story in the newspapers.

Six days a week Fiebig gets up and comes to the store. “I have to get up in the morning and get out of the house,” he says. The only day he doesn’t work is Sunday, when you can find him at the New Apostolic Church in Northridge. Frida, who passed away eight years ago, sang soprano in the church’s choir for 40 years; Fiebig’s youngest daughter Elona sings in the choir now.

Grandsons James and Matt now work at Hans Custom Optik. James Ohebsion has been working with Feibig for 20 years. “As long as you do something with yourself that people need, you will do well,” says Fiebig. “People will always need glasses.”

Larchmont Chronicle
542½ Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Editor & Publisher: Jane Gilman
Associate Publisher: Irwin Gilman
Established 1963