Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shopping, and what retailers can learn from WalMart

With Christmas approaching, and being on most-time maternity leave still (I'm working very part-time), I've spent some time in the stores lately. Time with Mia in the stores, I should say - and her Big Enormous Stroller. I've learned a few things about shopping.
The only store I have found lately that has reasonable aisle widths, no aisle clutter to speak of, and requires no elevator... is WalMart. Now, I'm not really a WalMart fan. Sure, their prices are low, their stores are clean, they have reliable family washrooms, but it seems to be at the cost of small business, employees, and results in the homogenization of the world (I was going to say North America, but I saw a WalMart in Mexico a few years back. I suspect they're stealthily taking over the world, McDonalds style). Okay, Old Navy is pretty decent as well for stroller-friendly layout.

Here's the thing: I WANT to shop elsewhere. I don't like big box stores. I have money to spend on Christmas gifts and time to spend it at the mall, or wandering down main street and popping into shops. And I'm not alone.

So, dear retailers, please take a lesson or two from WalMart - you are losing customers left, right and center, I'm sure! Just take a look at the clientele at the mall on a weekday. Do you see what I see? About 70% mums with strollers. Mums with time on their hands and a yen to shop, and a very small person in a very big stroller who seems to "need" lots of stuff. Stuff that could be purchased at your store. Here's what you need to know. It's pretty easy. 

Your store needs to be stroller accessible. I'm not talking about the first three feet of the store. The whole store.  

If I can't get in to see your stuff, I'm not buying. If I can't reach the cashier, I'm not buying.

Worst offenders? Abercrombie and Fitch decided to give their store a porch of sorts at the mall near me: three steps up to get through the door, then three steps down to get into the store. I tried, really I did. We went up the first steps with the stroller, I saw the next set of steps, peered into the gloomy darkness of the store, and said, "Forget it!". Wrangled the stroller right back down the steps and walked away. BAD MOVE, A&F. The Children's Place, Gap Kids, and Gymboree - I spend more time trying to maneuver around the racks, which are scattered in some awkward non-grid system and placed way too close together, than looking at the wares. Even Toys R Us has aisle clutter issues. These are stores for kids! People who shop there pretty much all have strollers. What are you thinking?? Stores like Bombay, Pier 1, Benix (the worst!) - I get that your stores are full of non-child-friendly stuff. But they're so darn crowded I have to walk sideways when it's just me shopping. No way am I coming in with the stroller.

And this is why the big box retailers and online shopping are winning my money over the small stores. Not because I prefer them. Not because I support their style or ethics (or lack thereof). Not because I even particularly like the stuff they have. It's because I can't come in with my daughter in her stroller.

I also have to add... If I can't even get in with a stroller, it's clear that you all really suck in terms of wheelchair accessibility too. So uncool.

Am I the only one this bugs, or are others frustrated too?


  1. I TOTALLY agree! I look from the doorway into most stores and if it looks likes it will be a nightmare to maneuver the maze, FORGET IT!! I need to be in and out! quickerty quick!!

  2. The local kids consignment shop is really stroller UNfriendly. I really like the place so I make it work but it always leaves me shaking my head. It's a small space but not THAT small.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog and I find it impressive. I like your post. Big thanks for sharing.



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