Dear (Fill in the Blank Store):
I know it’s not your responsibility to make sure that your store accommodates the small population of mothers who have more than one small kid, but let’s face it – moms with small kids will eventually become moms with big kids. Building a little bit of goodwill now really can’t hurt and might only help you in the long run as you build an inventory of loyal customers.
What am I talking about, you ask? I’m talking specifically about your shopping carts. If you’ve ever been shopping with two or more little kids, you might understand what I’m referring to. Shopping with two young kids in tow is difficult and the shopping cart situation is often a cause of frustration for many moms. I am asking you to regularly check all of your double seated carts to ensure that they’re working, and MAYBE consider replacing them with more mom/kid-friendly styles.
In my household, my husband is great at doing small errands like picking up milk, but I still do most of the big shopping. I try, whenever possible, to go shopping when my kids are asleep or during my lunch hour, but there are some days where this is impossible. Usually, those “impossible” days are on weekends during your peak hour, where crowds are completely insane and people have zero patience for a mom with two young kids, let alone one with two kids in a double-wide shopping cart.
Half of the time, the double carts that are available are disgusting – overdue for replacing, covered in some unidentifiable sticky substance. 99% of the time, the safety harnesses are busted. Several of our large supermarket chains (and I mean NATIONAL chains!) have no two-plus kid carts at all.
I generally don’t complain because I know that I represent a TINY portion of your clientele and I have a high threshold for discomfort. But please know that this has meant that I have either skipped your store altogether, or have left without going inside when I couldn’t find a cart that worked. Don’t tell me to put one kid in the seat basket and the other in the cart because the kid that sits in the cart inevitably ends up crying because it’s neither fun nor comfortable for them either. In this case, I’d just rather skip the shopping.
If you think you’ve been accommodating, consider these situations:
Over the holiday season, I had to go to the supermarket before our holiday dinner. Our local Stop & Shop had holiday displays where the shopping carts are usually stored and therefore the carts were moved outside. The wire carts were OK – they were under the awning right outside the entrance – but the double carts were moved to the uncovered side of the building behind some wooden pallets. It was pouring rain out – the wetness of the carts wasn’t an issue because I regularly carry a roll of paper towels in my car; however, I was unable to get the carts out from behind the wooden pallets without actually moving the pallets which meant that I would have spent 15 minutes out in the pouring rain while my kids waited (alone) in my car. I even asked the guy collecting carts to help me and he told me that he couldn’t help.
On another occasion, I went to our local Stew Leonard’s* during an off-peak hour. My kids and I walked over to the area where the shopping carts are stacked and there were two double carts available. The first one I pulled had a bolt missing which connected the caboose to the cart, rendering it useless. The other cart I pulled out had something very sticky and gross all over the seats – I wiped it all off only to find that the harnesses were cut off (why, I have no idea). I turned around and left without ever setting foot in the store. I even wrote a note to customer service stating that both of their available carts were not usable, and they responded with an apology but they didn’t fix the situation.
I’m not asking you to make a massive change (because that would be impractical) but I am asking you to consider being a little bit more kid-friendly. Stocking your store with shopping carts that are not giant buses and checking them periodically to ensure they are in working condition would be a great start.
A Mom of Young Twins
* One of the Stew’s stores (Newington?) has double seat wire carts, but Norwalk has the old fashioned wagon carts. Stew’s recently did a promotion on Facebook where they said that they might consider bringing in the double seat wire carts to all of their stores if there were enough “LIKES” on their Facebook post. It got what I would have thought was enough LIKES and yet, they replaced only their regular carts and never replaced their double carts. Very disappointing.
A Primer on Double Seating Shopping Carts:
The Race Car, Multi Tier Carts – awesome, awesome, awesome. Two of our local family markets (shout out to The Village Market and Caraluzzis, both in Wilton, CT) have multi-tier carts. The top tier has racecar seating with TWO steering wheels (very important!!!) and the bottom tiers are shopping baskets. Even when the seat belts are broken (rare because these two stores check the seatbelts regularly), the kids are able to sit safely in the cart. The turning radius is pretty much the same as a normal shopping cart and more importantly, the kids are within arms’ reach of mom so that she can break up any arguments that are likely to arise. The attention to detail and family friendliness has has made me a loyal customer for life at these two stores.
Double Seat Double Wide Shopping Carts – Costco has these GREAT shopping carts – basically a giant version of your traditional shopping cart. The seating is double-wide, allowing you to put two little kids in the seating area. They are a little bit tall (but that’s my problem, not theirs) but they make it SO easy to shop with more than one kid. My kids never complain about the cart when we are shopping there. Sadly, the massive size of the shopping cart also allows you to buy WAY more than you’d normally buy. It’s no wonder why I can’t make it out of Costco without paying a few hundred bucks!
The Cozy Coupe – several supermarket chains have these. They are basically regular shopping carts with plastic cars attached to the front. They are super cute and seem like a good idea, except that whoever designed a shopping cart where two little kids are outside of arms’ reach of Mom clearly hasn’t experienced the slap-fest that inevitably ensues between two young siblings in such close quarters. This is besides the fact that the turning radius is WAY larger than most shopping aisles allow. Great idea, poor execution.
Wagon Seat Carts – our local Stew Leonard’s (Norwalk) has these. Try navigating the maze of aisles at Stew’s with one of these and you will never want to do it again. I have gotten nasty looks and actual comments from people who are annoyed that I bothered to go shopping with my kids. The ones at our (Norwalk) store also tend not to have working seatbelts and at least two of them are unbolted from the shopping cart on one side. Because the seats tilt downward slightly, my kids end up sliding off. Awful idea, awful design.
The Disaster of a Double Cart – Whoever designed these carts needs to reconsider their calling in life. Wal-Mart and Target carry the first cart – the kids face each other, the space is limited in the kiddie cabin, the turning radius is non-existent. Some supermarket chains carry the second cart which is pretty much useless if you have kids under about 2.5 (they slip off and fall forward when ever you move) and in the 90% of cases where the safety harness is broken, forget it. With both carts, you are better off just carrying both kids around (hello, toddlerwearing?) instead of using this cart. To the retailers who carry these – you are not doing moms a favor here. Please take a cue from Costco – get rid of these carts and get the awesome ones they have!