There is a saying in business, “know your market.” Apparently, this also applies to consumers, implying that a person should recognize where they are expected to consume and where they are not. This week, I found out that Best Buy and I do not share common ground in the customer area. On Tuesday, I piled all three of my children into the back seat of my Saturn and made the 20 minute drive to Best Buy. The parking lot at 2:30 on a weekday afternoon was much busier than I had anticipated, but apparently the people who shop at Best Buy have nothing better to do at that time. Pealing my children from their car seats, ensuring everyone had shoes, coats, and clean noses, I held my twins (one on each hip) and put the fear of God in my three-year-old to hold her sister’s hand or a car WOULD RUN OVER HER!
As we began what was probably the 40 yard trek to the front doors, but felt like a mile and a half, a man passed my little family, of course commenting, “You have your hands full.” In my mind the quip, “No $#!%, I have 2 peoples’ handfuls,” becomes, “luckily, they are good kids,” in response. No, he did not offer to help. No, he did not try to stop the three cars that drove between me and the doors and caused our side show to stand in the middle of the aisle and wait.
As we entered the (thankfully) automated doors, I gave a pathetic smile to the man standing by the security gates. Surely he was thinking, “I need to watch this chick and make sure her kids don’t grab anything before they leave.” I politely asked, “Do you have a cart?” He nods in the other direction, where carts are pushed into the tangled mess that keeps them as tightly compacted against a wall as possible. No, he did not come over to help me pull the carts apart. He stood in his place and smiled. FINE, I’m an independent woman; I can hold three kids and do anything. Would you like to see me juggle milk bottles and whistle while I do this, too?
Now, up to this point I admit that my frustrations are mostly with the people I have encountered, and really no one was mean, they just were not overly friendly or helpful. That is their prerogative, and I don’t really expect anyone, especially men between the ages of 20 and 45, to be a big help when it comes to a mother and her children. But when I pulled my cart out I was flabbergasted.
The shopping carts at Best Buy have been engineered for moving TVs, and perhaps a small assortment of palm sized electronic items. Oh, and if you got stuck with the kid when you had to come in, there is also a spring loaded top seat to place them in. My girls were troopers.
No less than three workers (all males ages 20 to 55) walked passed me as I searched for the item I wished to purchase. Finally, by shoving my estrogen filled cart between a worker and his intended destination, I wrangled a young man into an aisle that could possibly have the thing I need.
“I am looking for an ‘S cable.’”
“Are you sure that’s what you need?”
“Yes, I am hooking my (“antiquated”) laptop to my (equally “old,” non- HD) TV, and I need an ‘S cable.’” (I realize that HD has really changed things, and people have made great electronic strides in the last 5 years. My laptop is not that old, and neither is my TV. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, 5 years old is NOT old.)
“Well, that is not really what people use to hook their TVs to their computers. Have you tried (insert name of electronic item I do not need)?”
For future reference, if you ever work retail, you should know that mothers buy electronics. But we probably do it differently than old ladies or any male. First, we ask every individual we know who has any knowledge of electronics to look at our problem and tell us what we need, before we ever consider leaving the house. Then, we shop online. If the item appears with a photo, but seems to be too pricey, or would take too long to arrive, we decide to head to the store. IF WE ASK FOR SOMETHING BY NAME, WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT BEFORE WE COME IN YOUR STORE. Do not argue with a mother of three girls about whether she wants to purchase the item for which she asked.
As we head in the direction of the check-out counter, I finally realize that not only am I a misfit in this store, but I am very unwanted. Between the shopping area and the check-out area of this particular Best Buy, one must pass a number of small objects easily placed in one’s pocket, and just the right size for a child’s hand. But even more exciting than pint sized, light-up wonders, is the laptop and printer sitting three feet off the floor. Are they mad? Why on earth would the leave a computer out right next to the register? Oh, because this is not a store where children are welcome. Got it.
As we approach the check-out counter, and my children have been angels, I realize that I brought in the gift card I was hoping to use, but not my wallet. I casually mention to the clerk that, if there isn’t enough on the gift card, I will have to run out to my car. Her response, “oh, and it is so windy, I bet your girls will get so cold.” I don’t know what I was like when I worked a register, but if a woman said she was going to have to go back to her car to get her wallet, I would not mention what a pain it would be to go. I would offer to be helpful in some way, probably by saying she could leave her children in the store. Anyway, thankfully, my gift card covered it, and now I could get out of this place.
There is a secret that people don’t tell you about having children. Sometimes, you have to leave your child in the car for a moment. Not for hours, not without your eyes constantly fixed to the backseat, but sometimes, you just have to put your child in the car and walk away. For example: after you have purchased anything in a store and must walk 40 yards back to your vehicle, you will take a cart rather than try to maneuver the parking lot with your hands full. Once everyone is safely buckled into their seats, you will lock your doors three times, and, seeing that there is no cart return in the lot, you will walk your cart back up to the store to avoid being the jerk that left the cart in a parking space in a busy lot. And people who are entering the store will not want your cart, no matter how much you offer it to them. You could pass 30 people, none of them will take your cart back for you. So, if you don’t have children, please do not call child protective services if you see some kids in a backseat in a parking lot. Their mother is probably running back from returning a cart and praying that no one discovered the screaming angels in the backseat who saw mommy walk away.
And so, lesson learned. Best Buy does not want my family to shop in their store. This does not mean that they do not want my business, but that I am not their target market. Sure, I can buy online, or shop independently, but in the executive’s mind, bringing my children into Best Buy is almost the equivalent of setting a bull loose in a china shop (by the way, Mythbusters did a show about this, and no china was broken). Too bad I couldn’t have used my gift card online, it would have saved me one heck of a trip. So you win, Best Buy. You probably will not see my face in there any time soon. Next time, I will send my 20- to 45-year- old husband.
P.S. The cable worked perfectly, and I can now watch my netflix on my big screen tv! AND, I hooked it up all by myself…ok, with a few text messages to a former Best Buy employee. 🙂