FARGO—Mike Rexine is enjoying being the new "downtown eye doc" after 17 years of serving the vision needs of Mayville, N.D.
Rexine, a native of Fessenden, N.D., joined the practice of Eyes on Broadway, 311 Broadway N., in October 2015. He planned to work here half-time along with owner and optometrist Mark Tufte for three to five years as Tufte wound down his career, at which point Rexine would take over completely.
Things didn't go according to plan after Rexine bought 49 percent of the downtown vision and eyeglass boutique on Jan. 1, 2016. He said Tufte wanted to grow the business more and suggested they open another practice in south Fargo, but Rexine couldn't handle a third business—he already had his hands full downtown and at his Mayville practice he opened in 2001.
Instead, Rexine bought out Tufte on Aug. 1, and took over Eyes on Broadway completely. Tufte recently opened a new Fargo practice of his own, Eyes on 45th, 1801 45th St. S.
Rexine said he's noticed big differences already in the patients he works with downtown compared to his clients in Mayville, a smaller town where he often treats corneal abrasions and other eye injuries caused by farming accidents.
His Fargo patients tend to be younger, he said, and many have extra vision insurance. Eyes on Broadway is more of a retail location now that handles routine eye exams and sales of glasses and contacts, he said, while he treats more Medicare patients in Mayville for medical conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
There's one other obvious difference that Rexine noticed right away, and it's become his default answer to friends who ask why he came to Fargo.
"I always say, 'Well, I get more patients that walk by my front door every day than live in Traill County,' " he joked.
Despite the ownership changes happening sooner than expected, Rexine said he has enjoyed being part of the fun atmosphere of downtown in a rapidly growing neighborhood.
"We're very happy to be in the situation that we're at," he said.
Rexine and his wife, Kathy Rexine, who also works in his practices, split their time between Eyes on Broadway and their business in Mayville, where they live with their three youngest kids.
They're at Eyes on Mayville each Monday and Wednesday and work in Fargo each Tuesday and Thursday. They rotate their location every other Friday, making sure both practices have plenty of time each week with an optometrist.
Rexine said both locations can handle routine eye exams as well as common medical issues up to surgical procedures that would be referred to an opthamologist.
He said both stores also aim to provide "great customer service" with relaxed, knowledgeable care and great eyewear.
"My goal isn't to see every patient in the Fargo-Moorhead area," he said. "My goal is to take care of the patients that want to come and have us take care of them."
His long-term business goals haven't changed since he started down this new chapter of his career in the fall of 2015. Rexine said he plans to build up eyes on Broadway into a full-time practice with an optometrist available five days a week, something he'll do by hiring another optometrist to work there in January.
He'll also keep his Mayville practice open as a half-time location, he said.
Rexine will hold a frame trunk show and open house Tuesday, Oct. 10, through Thursday, Oct. 12, at Eyes on Broadway to mark the start of the next chapter of the downtown boutique.
What: Eyes on Broadway
Where: 311 Broadway N., Fargo
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday
Phone: (701) 540-6444