We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzanne O’Connor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzanne, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk, it’s part of business. I often look at risk with the “what if I don’t take the risk” question. What do I lose by not moving ahead. I think risk is easier to do if you don’t have that much to lose. It’s harder when what you’re risking is nearly everything. When in doubt, I council myself with, “You only live once.” and “Great reward usually involves great risk”. Do I jump out of airplanes… heck NO! But I do know that you need to jump on opportunities when they show up. I’d rather be brave than boring.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Back in 1999, my husband and business partner encouraged me to start local bargain shopping guide, BargainsLA.com I kept BargainsLA’s standards high, only reviewing discount outlets and sales in Los Angeles where there was “Quality product available at a discounted price”. I actually visit every outlet I review. I love learning how retailers can sell product for less. How did they get it? Why was it was discounted? And sometimes asking, what the heck is that? Before BargainsLA, I was in the performing arts. I was not business, consumer or tech savvy. The internet was still young back then, so it wasn’t difficult to manage the site ourselves and we could learn. Three website redesigns later, we were still managing the site ourselves. We posted Sample & Warehouse Sales, reviewed a new discount outlets, wrote newsletters and sales alerts every week. With little time to learn the new tech, we ended up behind the tech curve, instead of in front of it. I hate failing at anything. So I got on my game face and forced myself to learn. I took dozens of webinars / seminars on everything from coding and marketing to Social Media. Once I knew I could learn new technology, we hired a great company to work with us on the rebuild & redesign of BargainsLA website. And even with all the prep, it was a huge learning curve to redesign for the 4th time. Working with experts in web design complimented my expertise in consumer shopping for the rebuild. Knowing what they were talking about made the process easier and the site better. The hardest things are to embrace your business evolving and learning how to adapt to change in a fast paced world. You can never become complacent.
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?
First a great friend deserves a great meal. I like relaxed atmospheres. Patio dining at Casa Cordoba in Montrose is a delight. Marvelous Spanish food! Best Sangria ever! To catch up on life, a good hike in either the Verdugo’s or San Gabriels Mountains. If we wanted to have a celebrity siting maybe a stretch of the legs at Fryman Canyon. Assuming the friend is a she, I’d also take her to a secret new wholesale designer outlet, where you can only get in by appointment. She’d save 75-90% on name brand and designer clothes. Cause friends don’t let friends pay retail. I’m still a Disneyland gal. If they were up to the challenge I get some park hoppers and head down to Anaheim. (Of course this is on a Non Covid-19 world.) If this pal was more intellectual, I book a tour in DTLA with The LA Conservancy. Old buildings say a lot about who we were and aspired to be. But the Pacific Ocean is our backyard. So I take them to the beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Well, first my mom, Geri Cook (L.A’s Original Bargain Queen) who taught me everything about quality in craftsmanship & design as well as a brilliant example of fearlessness. More recently, Michael Weintraub at After Retail. I watched as he struggled, fought hard, used his creativity and sense of humor to take risks building a new online discount outlet business. When we had to rebuild and redesign BargainsLA, he inspired me to move forward.