We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Geer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from Los Alamitos, CA. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood and oddly enough the tract that I grew up in was called Suburbia. I loved growing up in the seventies where parenting was very different. We grew up doing a lot of things that kids mostly don’t do today, some good, some bad. Although I have fond memories of growing up in Los Alamitos I couldn’t wait to leave when I was old enough to live on my own. My family would drive to Long Beach on special occasions to go to brunch and I fell in love with the older buildings in Long Beach. I loved the different styles of architecture and knew I wanted to live in a city with more history and old buildings. So a few years after finishing University I ended up in Long Beach. Growing up my father owned his own business near downtown Los Angeles. When I was very young my brother and I would go to work with my Dad on weekends and earn a bit of money helping him in the plant. This was in the mid to late 70’s and we would work for a while and then wander around the streets and alleys near the factory. This was in the arts district, which of course now is very different than it was back then. Going to work on the weekends taught me a great deal about earning money. And when I was older I watched my Dad, the way he treated his customers, I realized it didn’t really matter what he was making or selling, it was all about customer service. I believe that is the key to any successful business. I got my first job when I was fourteen at the Los Alamitos racetrack and I worked on school nights and didn’t get home until 9:30-10:00 sometimes. Again, things were very different back then and I think I’m a better person because of it.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m most proud of the fact that I started Urban Americana. Getting the courage to take a risk and start something from scratch was the most challenging aspect of the entire process. I wish I had done this much earlier in life, but it is what it is, I don’t look back. When you start your own business in some ways it’s easy because of your level of commitment and at times desperation. I worked pretty much everyday for three straight years until I felt like we had “made it”, whatever that actually means. I loved what I was doing so I didn’t really look at it as work. Today I have good people working for me so I don’t work as often. I’m at home a lot with my kids doing distance learning and I spend a lot of time thinking about what I might do next.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This actually happened pre covid but it wasn’t my best friend. It was the daughter of one of my best childhood friends who lives in Spain. They are Danish but they moved to Spain to open a restaurant. His daughter had just finished the equivalent of high school and she wanted to travel before she started her next level of education. She stayed with us for a month and it was really fun. We ended up taking her all over Los Angeles doing very touristy things that we would otherwise never do in our own city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First off, my Mom and Dad deserve most of the credit. But my former employer should get a shout out as well. I hated my job so much, and I was formally written up one day for standing up for my customer. The people who wrote me up asked me after if I wanted to go to lunch. I declined the invite and immediately started looking for a building to purchase, and started writing my business plan for Urban Americana.