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Shopping expert made a career of bargain-hunting

Times Staff Writer

Geri Cook, who turned bargain-hunting in Los Angeles into a brisk business, with a monthly newsletter, television segments, a call-in hotline and a newspaper column on how to beat retail prices, has died. She was 83.

Cook, a Beverly Hills resident, died March 19 at the Fountain View Subacute and Nursing Center in Los Angeles, said her daughter, Suzanne O’Connor. The cause of death was complications from emphysema.

She got her first taste of bargain shopping in New York City, where she lived in the early 1960s with her husband, television producer Donald Cook, and their two children. Her husband became too ill to work and Cook looked for ways to stretch the family income. “Shopping became fun,” she told The Times in 1985. “It was a treasure hunt.”

After her family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, Cook worked as an editor for Jeremy P. Tarcher Publishing, where she edited “Bargain Hunting in L.A.,” by Barbara Patridge. The book was published in the early 1970s and was updated.

By the mid-1980s Cook had built a bargain-shopping empire. Along with her newsletter, “L.A.'s Best Bargains,” she gave subscribers a telephone hot line number to call with questions. She led tours to discount outlets, did radio spots and appeared regularly on KCBS’ evening news, where she was known as “the super shopper.”

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For 11 years starting in 1990, Cook wrote the “Bargains” column for The Times. In it she directed readers to discounted garden furniture, rentable Halloween costumes, restaurants with “happy hours” that include free hors d’oeuvres and coffee bean shops where the price goes down the more you buy.

“I should have been a detective,” Cook said in a 1981 interview with The Times. “I love digging into these things.”

Born Geraldine Gardiner on June 9, 1924, in Evanston, Ill., she graduated from the University of Illinois and began her career in media as an operations manager for a Chicago television station. She married Cook in 1952. They had two children.

Her daughter now writes an online bargain shopping guide, www.bargainsla.com.

Cook is survived by her daughter and one granddaughter, Shaelan. Her husband died in 1970.

Her son, Anthony, died in 2003.

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mary.rourke@latimes.com


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