No Strollers Allowed!

I wrote the post below instead of doing what I should have done which was to call the establishment directly and ask them about the sign. Instead, I did what I can’t stand and got passive-aggressive about it on the Internet. (I am currently punching myself in the face for this, btw.)

I’ve decided to leave it as-is. But wanted everyone to know that I was the one in the wrong here. And I apologize for how I handled the situation. Furthermore, I would like to thank Amy 2 for actually doing what I should have done in the first place.

Yay, sweet stranger!

______________

I usually stay away from topics like this one because I’m too much of a pussy anymore to deal with online backlash, but I can’t help it this time.

My lollipop adventure has me frequenting a baking supply store in Manhattan. This store has everything I need and at relatively decent prices. Plus, they sell in bulk. They’re also fairly convenient for me to get to—a mere 8 blocks from the 6th Avenue stop on the L.

A few weeks ago, Toby Joe, Emory and I headed into the city together. It was a Saturday morning. When we arrived, I saw the following sign:

I was annoyed, but fine—whatever. Toby Joe was there, so they waited outside while I rushed around for what I needed.

Fast forward to this week. I had rush order that had to get out. I wanted to get there quickly and immediately. I was preparing to take Emory into the city on the subway with me (I only have the nanny for a few hours each week) and remembered the sign. Since parking in that area during the week is impossible, I had three choices: I could leave the stroller behind and make him walk the 8 blocks from the subway which, as many of you know who’ve spent time with a 2-year-old, would take us forever; I could bring leave the stroller outside and hope that it doesn’t get stolen; or I could just not go and wait until I had someone to watch him.

I opted to wait. The order would have to wait. This is a “First World” problem. I know that.

But this is what I kept thinking: Why? Why are strollers banned from the store. Would a wheelchair be banned from the store? How about a walker? Why just strollers. And so I started to get upset about it—probably a little too upset because, considering in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal.

Someone suggested I ask the store owner if I could fold the stroller up and leave it just inside the store somewhere. And I could try that. I’m not sure they’d agree but I could try.

A few people suggested I leave the stroller outside and use a bike lock. Which, yes, is a great idea, but that adds one more relatively heavy item that I must carry around with me. Navigating the subway with a stroller and a toddler is hard enough, adding a paperclip into the mix can sometimes tip the scales.

See, that’s the thing: it’s when you start to add it all up—all the hoops you have to jump through when you have kids, that seemingly irrelevant situations like this one turn into the straw that breaks the sherpa’s back.

I understand why bars want to ban strollers. I’ve written about this before. There was a bar here in Brooklyn that put up a sign and were met with quite a backlash from those in the community with children. Granted, on the flip side of that fight (and boy was it heated for a while), there were a great number of people singing the bar’s praises because a lot of people believe that babies or toddlers should not be in bars. And I get that. I may not agree all the time, but I get it. But baking supply stores? There really aren’t many of them.

Here’s the bigger deal, however. I don’t believe this is about strollers. I believe this is about children. And if my cynical assumption is true, that’s discrimination discriminatory in nature.

I know myself. I won’t say a word to this establishment and hopefully once I figure out what I need every month, I’ll start ordering everything online. But I’m still annoyed. I’m annoyed that additional and unnecessary hurdles like this one are out there waiting us when I think we have enough to deal with.

43 Comments

  1. It’s probably because people with strollers steal things. For real. A lot of businesses struggle with moms who purposely bring strollers so that they can… steal things. Which is extremely crappy for a smaller business. (This sucks for those us us who don’t… steal things. But. Yeah. *shrug*)

    Chances are, they’d probably be happy for you to leave it in a corner of the store while you shop – It’s worth asking anyway.

    Reply

    1. Holy shit! I never even thought of that possibility. Wow. If that’s the truth, I feel like a very cynical donkey.

      Reply

  2. I think if enough people walk through the store with their toddlers “loose” the shop owners might revisit the stroller rule. You’d think they wouldn’t want small children walking through the store (all that bright candy-looking stuff… they might just want to TOUCH it all!). At least strollers keep kids contained (not to mention give the shoppers more time to browse and BUY! Not really a smart “bottom line” decision if you ask me.

    Maybe it’s a stealing issue. But I’m guessing this kind of specialty shop is full of trustworthy regulars. Do they know you? Do they know you have a business and will probably do a LOT of shopping there? It might not hurt to introduce yourself…

    Reply

  3. Erin: Yeah. I thought about that too. I had that in my post but deleted it. I thought about figuring out if this was actually about strollers or if this was about kids by brining him in with me WITHOUT the stroller. They will quickly revisit the no stroller ban.

    I don’t know about the stealing thing. I mean, it makes sense, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Or maybe I’m cynical because I have seen other businesses do this before as well. Perhaps I should just ask them why they don’t want them in the store?

    Also: They definitely deal with many of the same customers (chefs, restaurant owners, caterers, etc). I imagine that there are also people like me who do it as a hobby and go fairly regularly. I might introduce myself and see what happens. They are starting to recognize me now, so maybe it’s time to become more of a regular. But then what?

    Reply

  4. Is it a matter of space? I’ve often been out and about and can’t move for the strollers taking up ridiculous amounts of space…Do you not have an umbrella stroller that can be folded down or that doesn’t take up the entire aisle?

    Honestly, it’s hard for me to deeply sympathize at all, being childfree in an unwilling sort of way. A big chunk of me wants to just say “be glad you’re able to have a kid”.

    Reply

    1. A big chunk of you just did.

      Reply

  5. Wow, I would think they would far rather have little ones in a stroller than running throughout the store. As someone with a 3 year old, I feel better having him in a stroller/cart when we are shopping for that very reason. Perhaps they will revisit the ban when they see what happens with kids out of strollers!

    Reply

    1. Cathy: That’s precisely what makes me think that this isn’t about strollers and more about kids. You know? Certainly they know that.

      Reply

  6. Yes, they certainly can’t say “no children allowed!” Point taken. Very frustrating. Your lollipops are beautiful, btw!

    Reply

  7. I agree that it must be frustrating – you’re a customer, after all, and we’re used to a certain standard of accomodation – but I would be cautious in using the word discrimination, since it’s not really discriminating against an unchangeable condition (having a child is always a choice, not an unalienable trait) nor is it discriminating against an unassailable fact (children don’t have to be in strollers like disabled persons have to be in wheelchairs).

    The lawyer in me will shut up now!

    Reply

    1. Fair enough. I’ll cross that out and write “discriminatory in nature”.

      However, according to webster: 3 a : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.

      Doesn’t the word stand if my cynical assumption is true? Meaning, if they don’t want children in the store, doesn’t that fall in the above definition?

      Reply

  8. Have you tried a babycarrier? Strap that kid on your back in a mei tai! You can catch the subway, walk the few blocks, shop, all with a kid comfortably tied on and out of trouble. I do it all the time and in really small stores where a stroller would be cumbersome and annoying to all parties involved, I have found it a huge lifesaver! Even the most anti-children establishments cannot possibly have a problem with that. Love love love your lollipops btw- will be ordering some soon for DD’s birthday <3

    Reply

    1. Aja: NO! Can you suggest a brand? Do you mean the hiking packs? You know what I mean? He’s heavy, but I might try that. (He’s about 37 pounds now.) Let me know if you have a suggestion. I would love that. (Back in the Bjorn days, life was so much easier. he’s in that awkward age where walking long distances is impossible._)

      Reply

  9. It is no different than banning wheelchairs or walkers. That totally pisses me off. Do we expect people with canes or wheelchairs to get more compact ones for a retailers convenience? Do they want business? Or just from people with upright, walking, kids?

    Reply

  10. Last time I checked, Jen, wheelchairs and walkers weren’t voluntary. While i understand this is an *inconvenience*, it’s not discrimination, at least not legally. A combination of shortage and space issues, not to mention courtesy to the non-childrened patrons, can force a business to make these calls.

    Is it unfortunate? Sure. Will they lose business? Like Motrin. Is it their right to choose to exclude strollers? Absolutely.

    Reply

  11. A fat chick with kids April 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

    By that logic, what if the sign read “No Fat People” or something similar. Is that their right too? Is that discrimination? Many believe being fat is a choice as well.

    Reply

  12. If you are an asshole. I will continue deleting your comments.

    You know who you are.

    Reply

  13. I use one of those metal backpack dealy things when I need to get into somewhere or walk somewhere with Sophie. She is 32 pounds now but it is doable, especially if you aren’t necessarily in a hurry. I loved my Baby Bjorn but this hiking pack actually works really well with her. She is nearly 2 and loves being able to see everything from her perch too. Oh, and she can’t really reach anything from there either so that is a big plus too!

    Reply

  14. Firstly I think the no strollers rule is most likely because they don’t want people stealing, not because they don’t want children in the store. No store that is hoping to make money is going to ban children:) As for the carrier mentioned by Aja, google Mei Tei carrier, it is an awesome and comfortable option for heavier kids. The hiking ones ( which I find back breakingly horrible) are way less comfortable. It is made of fabric and can be folded up small and put in a backpack or bag when not in use ( should Emory want to walk for a while). I buy my slings/carriers at http://www.sewfunky.ca. Her Mei Tei’s are beautiful and hand made by her. Check it out. I still carry my 28 month old daughter almost everywhere, and it is a lifesaver, and good exercise too:)

    Reply

  15. Do you have a carrier like an Ergo? I love mine! It’s great for public transit.

    PS: Would love to hear the follow-up story on the nanny!

    Reply

  16. Oops, I see others have already suggested carriers. Well, I like the Ergo. It’s a soft backpack carrier that distributes the weight around the hips. It works in front for infants and on the back for toddlers (my daughter is about 30 pounds–I think you can use it up to 65 or something like that). I use it when we have to walk a long way and a stroller is too unwieldy. It’s a little hot in the summer but they now have a “sport” option for the same price that is supposed to be cooler.

    Reply

  17. I know this bakeshop you are talking about and it’s pretty awesome in terms of inventory but I’ve always thought the owners were very strange and at the very least abrupt. The service was annoying enough for me to not want to return. So. As you have said before, you love fighting other peoples battles, and not yr own, I would love to take this one on for you. As a mom in the city that has enough struggles just getting out of the house with a (double) stroller, the last thing we need are people telling us not to come in. Sooo maybe I’ll just give em a call and ask why.

    Reply

  18. I find all of these comments so interesting, but to me it smacks of wanting to ban children from the store but being too chicken to say it. Maybe it’s a westcoast thing? But it reminds me of a couple of instances in the past few years where women were told to they weren’t allowed to breastfeed in public, so there were HUGE nurse-ins where hundreds of women came and sat on the floor and breastfed their babies/toddlers etc. I think if this were in a letter to the editor of the local paper, something similar would happen in Vancouver..the store would be overrun by screaming, running, toddlers and crying babies.

    However, on the other side of the coin, perhaps the no stroller issue IS about theft. There was a story on the news a week or so ago about a couple and their 2 young kids going into a Best Buy (with a stroller), and letting the kids throw every single DVD and game they liked into the stroller, then just walking out. They must have stolen thousands of dollars worth of merchandise by just loading up the stroller and tossing a baby blanket on top.

    If I were you, I would ask, ever so politely, Why such a sign is required? You may just end up guilting them into allowing a stroller, or at least stroller parking near the entrance?

    Reply

    1. Yeah. I feel like an ass for even caring. And then I feel like more of an ass for writing about it on the Internet. Which is funny, because 9 years ago whenever I started this blog, I would have written about anything and not cared too much about who I offended or what sort of insults might be headed my way. My have I changed. I avoid conflict as much as humanly possible now.

      I’ve already decided that the next time I’m in there depending on who greets me (I write “greets” but Amy 2 is so right; this store is far from accommodating, they often look at you like you’re a nuisance instead of a customer. It’s strange.) I will ask about the sign.

      And I am going to look into the carrier, although, I bet within 6 months I’ll be writing about my visits to the doctor for a bad back. ;]

      Reply

  19. You said “8 blocks from the 6th Avenue L” which means that I’m almost positive I know which store you are speaking of and, well, here I go: they are, quite possibly, the rudest people I have ever met. The store owners are notorious among bakers for being extremely impolite and given that, I am not the least bit surprised that they extend this tone to babies. (I never noticed this sign — there’s a lot of front window clutter — and have brought the stroller in. If it annoyed them, it was hard to discern it from their usual gruffness.)

    Of course, this is the best baking supply store on earth thus supply and demand dictate that we tolerate this. I’d probably keep bringing it in until they make a stink. Who knows, maybe it’ll buy you some time until Emory becomes a super-speedy NY walker. ;)

    Reply

  20. So I called and they said that you can now bring strollers.- they took the sign down. She was actually very nice (!) and said that the store used to be too crowded but that they have changed things around and it is much easier to navigate a stoller with the new arrangement. Yea!

    Reply

    1. AMY! I LOVE YOU!!

      Wow, do I feel like an asshole for this post NOW.

      Will you guys forgive me if I take it down? I would hate for Google to pick it up now that this has been take care of.

      Reply

  21. You can take it down, but you should also take a moment to understand the power of your blog and your readers. Without this outlet you might have brooded for days (weeks, even!!). And now? All done within the day. I’d say you were just venting and those of us (esp. Amy2) were able to act as the unemotionally involved sounding board.

    Good job people!

    Reply

  22. W00t! Conflict resolved!

    Reply

  23. First of all I’d do what I wanted and see what happened. I’d go in with my stroller and if they confronted me I’d ask them to explain why and ask for alternatives like leaving the stroller at the checkout desk.

    On a side note, I was in a drug store today and saw a woman take out an entire maxi-pad display with her stroller.

    Reply

  24. ahhh, the awesome magic of the interwebs!

    Reply

  25. You shouldn’t feel bad about posting this at all! Just human nature if nothing else. Hell I stress about the lamest stuff all the time. At least you had a valid issue :)

    Actually what I gained most from reading the comments was how lucky I am to have a kid who is low on the growth chart. My son is 4 and weighs 33 lbs. Has for a year. I would have some buff arms if I had hauled around other people’s kids!

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  26. Hey, I think this post is fine. I couldn’t guess at the store’s intentions (my first thought was crowded aisles–obviously more of an issue in New York than in most places, but theft honestly never occurred to me). It is so irksome as a parent to have your mission planned out in careful detail and then have it derailed! I think it’s fine to say something, especially if you’re noticing a trend.

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  27. Funny! I was in this store this very weekend, and wondered about the sign myself. I just folded up my stroller and left it in the front of the store, but ended up having to leave early — and not buy anything — because my kid was running amok. Maybe he’s the reason they saw the error of their stroller-banning ways?

    Reply

    1. Ha! I wonder. I must give you a standing ovation for even bringing a little person IN THAT STORE. Because seriously? If I brought Em in there, it’d be an absolute mess within minutes.

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  28. Yeah, I’m not sure I’ll be doing it again. my darling 12 month old seems to be morphing into some sort of 14 month old demon creature before my very eyes. Seriously, how do people handle having a toddler in this city, without a yard?

    Reply

  29. The babycarrier I use is a BabyHawk. I love it! I had someone else’s two year old in it the other day and it held her fine. Google Baby Hawk- their website is great! They make one called the O Snap that looks like it would be nice for a toddler. Hope this helps!!!

    Reply

  30. I just was denied stoller access to a resurant due to “safety and space issues”.. We were the only customers and I never heard of any accidents in a restaurant caused by a snap n go! To accommodate us they had me put the car seat on two side by side chirs and an extra table. Hmmmm. Makes no sense. We used up 3 tables which took up more space and placing a carseat on two chairs thatt could separate is not safe! Hypocritical! I know that some say it’s not discriminatory but I do believe it is. My 4mo old daughter is incapacitated and cannot sit nor stand without assistance. Therefore disabled! My friend is in a wheelchair, wasn’t born that way and I doubt they would take away his wheelchair. He could technically lay on two chairs too! Lol! what I really believe is that the establishment we went to was a fine dining place and they frown on young children. For vanity reasons!! They don’t wanna be a denny’s!!!!!

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  31. I was gonna say carrier too. MeiTai, Babyhawk or Toddlerhawk, they are awesome. You tie it, so you can tie just the way you want. With Emory, being big, you prolly want him on your back, or hip. Beco Butterfly’s are good too. It straps on, if you don’t want to tie.
    (Personally, I don’t like Ergo’s, the strap across in front “chokes” me.)

    Reply

  32. Strollers take up a lot of room, and some strollers are the size of SUVs and don’t even fit through the aisles. If you are going to a shop where a lot of toddlers and babies are tagging along with their moms, all of the sudden you have a huge traffic jam! I understand that wheelchairs take up room too, but what are the chances that even ONE wheelchair will be in a store at a given time?? So if a handicapped person does happen to come in, a single wheelchair isn’t that hard to accommodate. Restaurants and pubs may be trying to create an atmosphere, but a bakery? I think this is really just a space issue.

    Reply

    1. It’s not a bakery. It’s a big store, the only one of its kind in the area.

      Anyway, whatever. I’ve taken my business elsewhere. Not because of this, but because they’re assholes in other ways. :]

      Reply

  33. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to add my experience here:

    I am a small business owner, and I own a toy store. This means a LOT of strollers come through our door. In one week, I caught TWO people stealing by throwing items underneath. I a month, I can’t even tell you how many mom’s and dad’s use it like a battering ram to push displays out of their way. One woman made my employee walk in front of her and move everything out of her way so she could fit her massive stroller through the isles and around the heavy displays.

    Finally, I too had to say “no” to strollers. I don’t ask anyone to leave them outside, but instead made a “Stroller Parking” area at the front of the store (complete with two large cheerful banners advertising as such) and a banner on the front of the store asking that people park their stroller when they enter to avoid “bumper corners”.

    Every time I have to ask people to please park the stroller. Almost every time I get yelled at and usually let them keep it. These are the people that seem to want to use it to push everything out of their way, too.

    *sigh* We love the kids. Kids, babies, bring ’em all. PLEASE leave the strollers at the front :(

    Reply

    1. You sound reasonable. And I would absolutely comply with those rules. I’m sorry you’re dealing with insensitive parents. Not ok.

      I completely understand why you do what you do.

      Reply

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