Shopping, with kids: Our unhappy soccer cleat shopping tale.

We're just finishing up the second week of school and we've already had to go shopping several times for various things. My husband took the easy job of taking the girls for their back to school supplies. I get the fun jobs like taking the kids for sneakers and soccer cleats. Oh, yeah - don't let me forget to mention that he has had a lot of overtime the past few weeks so the whole gang was able to go shopping in force.

So this post is a major slight rant. I'll apologize for it in advance.

The rant is not about shopping with 4 kids to buy 2 pairs of soccer cleats. It is about the lack of customer service we were able to experience at a very large sports box store. It was the week before soccer practices start for most public schools. We're new to soccer, the girls have never played before. We found (on our own) the soccer section. No signs pointed us the right way, we just happened upon it wandering around the store (with 4 kids). My oldest is tall for her age and has large feet and we found that none of the cleats on display were her size. So off we head to the shoe department. There was no one there. They have a running track painted on the floor so while I'm pushing the cart with my youngest in it looking for a salesperson to help us my son is running wild on the track. Eventually someone comes out, I ask for cleats in what I'm hoping is my daughters size, the clerk returns with the cleats and then completely disappears again. They don't fit - so now I'm searching for ANYONE who can help us while my son is wailing because I won't let him run wild on the track. (Can I add that 2 other families shopping are all glaring at my less than perfectly behaved children?) This happens not once, but TWICE before we find the right size (no offer of measurement - I had to wander around and find the foot measuring thingie myself). As we are attempting to leave my son announces he needs to use the restroom. We find it and I take him in. Unfortunately the restroom is located next to the GUN display. So I leave 3 children next to the restroom entrance while I take my son inside. While we're in the restroom the employees of the gun dept (apparently that dept is well staffed) hassle my children about standing next gun safes, even though my oldest explained that they were waiting for us to come out of the restroom. I'm not even going to describe the checkout experience, that also did not go well.

So why the rant? Well, just typing it all out does make me feel better. :-) But also brings up a good point for anyone in the retail business. Here I am a mom with 4 kids buying cleats for my oldest children. Odds are good that in a few years I'll be buying cleats or other sports gear for my younger children. While I'm a frugal and budget conscious shopper, customer service is really important to me when I shop. You may have the cheapest prices, but if I leave there stressed out over my shopping experience you can be confident that your store will not be my first choice the next time I need to make a sports purchase. For most parents it is worth paying a little bit more to have a knowledgeable clerk and a quick pleasant shopping trip. And while I'm not going to post where I went shopping, you can also be confident that if anyone asks me I'll be happy to share that I had a less than pleasant experience at your store. Okay, rant over!

One last quick note: I am now officially a soccer mom! I'm not sure if I should be thrilled, saddened or ambivalent to the title. What are your thoughts? Are you a soccer mom?

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