Mary Lou Schatan

  • Owner

    Schatan Optical Gallery

  • Address

    24580 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance

  • Phones

    310-378-3936  |  310-920-9565

  • Website

  • Special Section

    Women in Business

In 1968 Mary Lou Schatan was asked to temporarily help out at the optical store next door to her husband’s shoe business. She ended up working at Ballard Optical in Redondo Beach for 20 years, learning the trade. In 1988 she opened a store of her own, Schatan Optical Gallery, in Torrance.

Today Mary Lou is a Master Optician with more than 50 years of experience. She carries exclusive European collections, Kawasaki eyewear from Japan and designs her own unique rimless eyewear.

How does Schatan Optical Gallery differ from other optical stores?

“When you visit me, it is a one-on-one experience with an award-winning eyewear consultant. I care how you appear in your glasses. I will not allow myself to sell you a pair of glasses that look less than fabulous on you. It won’t matter what you are wearing because your glasses will always look great on you! I am a master at finding frames that fit you perfectly. You will find there are many styles that will enhance your lifestyle.”

Take a risk or play it safe in business?

“I am a risk-taker at heart, and my biggest risk in life was starting my business. I have never been happier.”

What changes have you made due to COVID-19?

“COVID-19 changed my business plan completely! I had to let my faithful employees go. I was about to go bankrupt and needed to work by myself to ensure my business survived. I am doing well working one-on-one with customers, as I did long ago. I have excellent health, and my only responsibility is my business. I love my location and feel content in Hillside Village. My salon is changing its look little by little into a new concept that will be better than ever. My frames are easily sanitized, and my glass tabletops are perfectly clean. I have more time to spend with each client and enough time in the day to keep the records up-to-date.”

What challenges are specific to your industry?

“My biggest challenge today, as always, is quality. Eyewear insurance is killing this. Thankfully, new manufacturers are addressing the desire for quality. My clients know my prices are high but worth the investment. I guarantee satisfaction, or I help you choose a replacement. My reputation relies on your satisfaction.”

What is your #1 piece of advice during this unprecedented time?

“My #1 piece of advice to others is my mother’s motto: It’s a good life if you don’t let it get you down!”

What are you especially grateful for today?

“I am grateful that I continue to be successful in my profession and that my clients value my knowledge and expertise in the eyewear they purchase from me.”

Tell us about your ideal day off.

“My ideal day off is staying at home and rearranging all the furniture I have accumulated over the years.”

In what ways do you empower women to succeed in business?

“I tell them how I started my business! I let them know the tools and information they can utilize from the Small Business Association. It is also great to discuss how time-consuming it can be to own a successful business, but also how rewarding it is when are passionate about what you do.”

Has motherhood made you a better entrepreneur?

“I never thought of myself as the perfect mother, but my son Matt ‘Handyman’ Schatan is the perfect son—reliable, strong, respected as a businessman, and always full of advice when business overwhelms me. He is my rock!”

What projects do you support to help those in need?”

“I encourage my clients to donate their beautiful glasses they no longer use. I clean them up and send them to VSP’s Eyes of Hope, which provides eyewear to people in need around the world.”

What have been your proudest moments during the recent crisis?

“My proudest moments during the COVID-19 crisis—other than keeping my business afloat—were spending quality time with my granddaughters, Brittany (19) and Courtney (16). I asked them to dress up and come to Schatan Optical Gallery to eat a catered dinner by nearby restaurant Primo. I find it so important to reassure my granddaughters that this hard time will pass, just like it did with the Great Depression. It was a perfect evening to remember forever.”

Have your hours changed during Covid-19?

“My new hours are appointment only, and I am available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays by request.”