Local Folks: Kelly & Clint Ross

Local Folks: Kelly & Clint Ross
Kelly & Clint Ross

Kelly and Clint Ross are opticians who own Davalt Optical, a longstanding eyewear boutique in Riverside. There they fill prescription lenses, repair broken eyeglasses, take custom orders, and so much more.

In addition to eyes, the Rosses have a passion for history and collectibles. So, when they’re not dressing the windows of people’s souls, they are out and about thrifting, which Kelly calls “junking,” in search of Jacksonville memorabilia and optical keepsakes. When asked how long they’ve been doing this, Kelly said, “Forever.”              

Their hunts take the couple near and far. Kelly frequents the two little antique malls in 5 Points. Sometimes, they travel out of town or out of state in pursuit of the old and unique. In fact, they recently drove up to Savannah, Georgia on a quest. “We love the strange and unusual,” Clint said.

For now, Kelly and Clint’s collection is too extensive to keep in one location. “We want a mini museum,” Kelly said. They have pieces in their home and in storage. Some items in their collection rotate in and out of their store as props.

They have a few antique trunks that they’ve turned into display cases at Davalt. Residents often donate their old eyeglasses to them. They even have a couple of pairs from Edgar, the optician who had been in practice in the 1800s in downtown Jacksonville. “We’re pretty proud of those,” Clint said. When asked where he had obtained them, Clint said, “The gettin’ place,” which is a southern euphemism used when wanting to keep a place secret.

Kelly and Clint are both Southerners. Kelly was born and raised in Jacksonville. Clint came from California to the North Florida area when he was only 13. He had lived in Gainesville and St. Augustine before moving to Jacksonville. His mother and grandparents have been collecting for years. “It’s something that’s kind of ingrained. It’s a southern thing, maybe,” he said.

According to Clint, some people find value in what he and Kelly do, and others think it’s junk. There has been a mixed bag of reactions to their passion. “Whenever you have a large Southern family, you’re going to get a mixed bag of everything,” he said.

Clint’s favorite piece in their collection is a file cabinet, a card catalog from the 1800s that they use every day. “It’s a beloved piece,” Clint said.

Their dream piece is yet to be had. Firm believers in the law of attraction, the Rosses have been setting an intention for an optician’s desk that is specific to their field, one that was made in the 1800s. They came across a couple of them in their travels, including England, but haven’t been in a position to purchase one and certainly not to have it shipped overseas. The rare few left that can be found are pricey, in the $15-25k range. But they are not giving up hope.

“Good will come to you whenever you do good” is the motto of the Rosses. And good they do, as they serve the “vision” of Jacksonville.

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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