Still looking for solar eclipse glasses?

Safety glasses fly off shelves as soon as they're stocked, retailers say

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter , Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - For the second-straight day, a group of people lined up at a store to buy glasses to safely watch the solar eclipse.

On Friday, people cheered when a shipment of glasses arrived.

Amal Soni, of The Party Shop, had ordered 2,000 and sold more than 1,700 within 30 minutes. 

"We’ve never had anything that sold out this fast before," said Amal Soni of The Party Shop. "This is the fastest anything’s moved."

The Party Shop on the Southside confirmed it ordered another 4,000 pairs of solar eclipse glasses. They're expected to arrive about 10 a.m. Saturday.

The glasses look pretty cheap, like old 3D glasses, but they're like gold in the River City as residents prepare to safely watch the stellar phenomenon.

"On Wednesday, I tried to find glasses for my family. Couldn’t find them anywhere," Soni said. "I found them from a wholesaler whose price was now retail price. Decided to buy them and overnight them."

Soni was concerned about scams showing up online in places such as Craigslist, where glasses that look legit are not really safe and could hurt your eyes.

"The only way we were able to try (was) to buy from a trusted source," Soni said. "A lot of news stations say check the ISO number. I found that’s not very good because a lot of the fake ones I’ve seen have the ISO number printed on them."

LINK: How to tell if your eclipse glasses are safe

Vue Optical Boutique in Avondale said it bought another 500 pairs of certified glasses, which will be delivered Saturday. The glasses will be sold for $10 each, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Healing Hearts Project. 

Staff at an Oceanway Circle K have dealt with frustration and disappointment after people heard a rumor they had the glasses. They never did and are having to disappoint customers and callers.

Learn about eclipse, get glasses

Jacksonville’s public libraries have been distributing eclipse glasses at its programs in recent weeks and will continue to do so at four programs Saturday and one Monday.

Saturday

  • Webb Wesconnett, Stories for Young Children - ages 0-5 - 11 a.m.-noon
  • Main Library, STEAM-Powered Saturdays: Eclipse Edition! - all ages, noon-1 p.m.
  • West Branch, Solar Eclipse! - all ages - noon-1 p.m.
  • Pablo Creek Regional, STEAM Explorers: Eclipse Edition! - ages 5-12 - 3-4 p.m.

Monday

  • Main library, ages 0–5, Stories for Young Children - 11 a.m.-noon
  • Main library, all ages - 1-2 p.m.

People attending library programs can line up 30 minutes in advance and receive a ticket or armband. That will be turned in at the end of the program to receive one pair of glasses. In programs for specific ages, only the child or children will receive the glasses.

Proper eclipse glasses have to be approved by groups such as NASA. Sunglasses and welder's goggles won't be strong enough, according to optometrists.

For a list of online retailers selling glasses, go to eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.

WATCH: DIY shades for Great American Eclipse

Other options

News4Jax meteorologist Mark Collins made a pinhole projection viewer using household items Friday while live on The Morning Show.

If you want to try to make your own using binoculars or a telescope and some cardboard, go to http://astrosociety.org.

If you want to see the eclipse with your own eyes, there are other ways, but not easy to find or cheap. Try a welding supply store.

"It's interesting the foot traffic that's coming and phone activity trying to scout out these things," said Bill Strate, vice president of Strate Welding Supply. "Why is it always the last minute?"

You don't have to spend money on the entire welder's helmet to view the solar eclipse. All you really need is the lens filter.

But they only work if you use specific shades. The American Astronomical Society recommends shades 12 or higher. It will come out as a green image of the sun.

"The unique thing is they're all asking for the darkest shade, and the darkest shade hasn't been used in about 50 years," Strate said.

Strate Welding Supply on the Westside sold its last filer, but News4Jax found also some at Specialty Marine and Industrial Supplies, 1420 Mayport Road in Atlantic Beach. They had 12 lenses left at midday Friday and were expecting an additional 100 at noon Saturday.

The Cerezo family traveled from St. Johns County to get their hands on the lenses.

"I've been really excited for this. This is the very few places you can get it," father Aaron Cerenzo said. "We can keep these for as long as we take care of them. So we can pass them on to our kids, so it's worth it."

"Our last alternative was to do the box with the paper, but this is more for the kids to experience and look at the sun," mother Deborah Cerenzo said. "It's more gratifying that way."

Going fast

Phones at Kid To Kid, a store in Mandarin, rang off the hook Thursday after word spread that it had ordered 1,000 eclipse glasses. 

“We had 400 and they sold out within two hours, so I was able to get another order, and I placed the order and those are almost gone,” said Amy Green, owner of Kid To Kid Jacksonville.

By noon that second order was all sold out.

Kid To Kid said if they receive any more, they will post a link on the store's Facebook page.

At Bowden Eye & Associates, employees have been fielding a lot of calls after giving away more than 4,000 pairs of eclipse glasses over the past few weeks. People keep calling wanting more.

“We’ve handled – gosh, it could be a million calls right now calling our center to say, 'Who has them? Where can we go to get them? And we don’t have any more,” said Patti Barkey with Bowden Eye & Associates.

News4Jax checked at Lowe's, Flying J, 7-Eleven, Walmart and Dollar Tree. They were all out of eclipse glasses.

Some smaller locations had them, though. Harris Ink Tattoo on Beach Boulevard was advertising on Facebook that it has some.

At Velocity, an air sports business on AC Skinner Parkway, the first 150 people who buy jump tickets through Monday get glasses for free.

At this point, merchants are worried about ordering glasses that might not arrive or sell by Monday, since no one will want to buy them again until the next solar eclipse visible from the United States -- in 2024.

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