Erika O’Dowd is a real estate agent and the person behind the outdoor movie venture Cinema La Placita. Here she talks scarves, infomercials and the downside of knowing so many people. By Gillian Drummond.
Early bird or night owl? “I’m not either. I don’t like to sleep late. I feel like it’s a waste of time. Late for me is past 8 am. But then I’m not one of those people who get up at 5.30a m. If I can’t sleep I’ll stay up till 2 am watching infomercials or Arrested Development reruns. Infomercials are OK because they don’t really have a plot, and they won’t get interrupted by commercials because they are a commercial. But usually I’m an 8 am to 11 pm person.”
Favorite accessory? “I think a lot about scarves. I have a ton of them – maybe 30 – and I don’t ‘wear them as often as I probably wish I could. There are only three months of the year in Tucson that you can even wear a scarf. Also, I’m short so I don’t have a lot of real estate. I don’t have a lot of distance between my collarbone and neck.
“I have all shapes of scarves, and winter and summer ones. Some of them I don’t know that I’ve ever worn them. Those little square ones, what do you do with them? Do you fold it into a triangle and wear it like a bandana? You have to be really bold to wear them. Eighty per cent of wearing a scarf is having the guts to wear them. It’s like ‘I’m going to wear this scarf and I’m going to own it’.”
Favorite faux pas? “Maybe because of my old age, I’m comfortable saying to people ‘Remind me how we know each other?’. You live in a town long enough and it could be junior high or it could be from somewhere else. Between real estate, where I meet a lot of people, and Cinema La Placita and just day-to-day living, there are so many different ways you can know somebody, and you see hundreds of people a week.
“Recently I was at Himmel Park Library and the woman behind the desk said ‘How are you?’ I said ‘Remind me how we know each other?’ and she said ‘I’m your next door neighbor’. I was like ‘I didn’t know you volunteered at the library. You’re my next door neighbor, that’s where you belong, in that house!'”
Who is your dream customer/client? “I have two of them going on. For Cinema La Placita I would say someone who is there for the experience, someone who’s there for the chit chat, for meeting up with people from work – because it’s an opportunity to stay out at night and not just go home. Someone who almost doesn’t care what the movie is because they’re there to be a part of the community. That’s why I started it, it’s ‘Don’t go home, stay up, it’s only three bucks, it’s not a big deal’.
“In real estate, I enjoy it when folks enjoy the process of narrowing down properties and getting real specific. I enjoy being a part of that. Because I understand buying a house is very stressful but it should be fun. It’s also an adventure. Every time you see a new house it’s like you’re saying, ‘What would our life be like if we were here?'”
If I weren’t a real estate agent I would… “I feel like Cinema La Placita fills a space for me. It’s kind of my dream, doing something for the community that’s fun and makes it better.”
If I could change one thing I would… “I drive past the airplane graveyard in south Tucson and it makes me so depressed. I think about where we would be if [things like this] weren’t our priority. I wish our country saw its people as its best resource and invested in them, and not just in terms of giving them a good education.”
Cinema La Placita screens classic films at the colorful La Placita Village every Thursday night during the summer. The movies start at 7.30 pm and cost just $3 (that includes popcorn). Find out more about Erika’s real estate business here.