So I have decided to introduce a new series on my blog: SubReviews. A few weeks ago Sally Hazel made a suggestion that I/we should write a review on double strollers. Funnily enough, by then I was already toying with that same idea. However, I wanted to review toilet paper first. But I took Sally's suggestion to heart and decided to start with something less intimate. Alas, I am being perfectionist about it, and that stroller review has been in my drafts half-written for quite some time.
So brief intro. What qualifies me to write reviews?
1. I am a consumer.
2. I am not picky or fussy, but have reasonably high expectations of services and products.
3. I worked in service industry.
4. I am a maniac, when it comes to spending my money, that is. I like getting my money's worth. I do oodles of research before purchasing thing. And I always feel a bit disappointed: once the decision is made, all that accumulated info is lost and no one else gets to benefit from it.
So here I am, sharing my opinions and reviews about things I buy and places where I buy them.
And now the main feature:
A friend of mine recently had a baby, so I needed to buy something for the bris that will take place tomorrow. One rarely has more than a two or three day notice to shop for a bris gift. Since the recipient is a friend, I felt that giving money was slightly impersonal. Plus, I remembered having my first baby and liking gifts at that time as much as cash and gift cards, if not more. And to top it all of, I really LOVE shopping in baby stores. So I had a dilemma: 1) what to buy and 2) from where.
The choices that I had in Manhattan were very limited: BuyBuyBaby (BBB), ToysRUs (TRU) and BabiesRUs (BRU). (There probably are smaller stores somewhere nearby, but I am not aware of their whereabouts.) I love BBB, but that option was quickly eliminated. I am a strong believer in gift receipts, and they are not. Also, they have very few branches, compared w/RUs network. After some consideration, I eliminated TRU too. I was unable to get in touch w/customer service to find out how extensive their baby section is. So based on my experiences with other branches, I headed to the safe waters of BRU, or so I thought.
BRU at Union Square is a three-floor store. I had an idea of what I wanted to buy - a couple of toys - so seeing toys on the first floor made me smile: it seemed that shopping would be quick. I was wrong. The toys I was looking for weren't among the ones on the first floor. They ended up being on the third floor. This actually gave me an opportunity to look over the entire store. I was not impressed to say the least. Given the amount of space, one would expect great variety, and one would be wrong. One toy I came to buy was not in their inventory. As a matter of fact, their entire toy department was unimpressive.
I decided to abandon my initial plan and buy a bouncer seat. And I was disappointed again: there were only 6 varieties available, three absolutely hideous, 1 dysfunctional, 1 ridiculously expensive, leaving only one viable yet still not impressive option. That idea had to be abandoned as well.
I headed to the clothes dept, and again variety was greatly lacking. I couldn't find anything cute enough for a gift. And again, I am not THAT picky. Finally I went back to toys on the third floor and got one, then picked out bassinet sheets on the second floor and found another toy on the first.
A trip that should have taken ten minutes (because I knew what I wanted before coming into the store!) turned into a full hour ordeal of running between different floors and trying to decide what goes with what. While standing in line, here are conclusions I have made:
1. I still love BRU, but I will probably not come back to the Union Square brunch ever. The one in Gateway Mall is SOOOO much better.
2. Even though they have tons of space, unless you are looking for bedding, car seat or a single stroller, variety is greatly lacking across all other departments.
3. Having three floors is annoying, especially that things are not very logically organized (i.e. toys are located on all three floors).
4. Calling ahead to check on availability would be hard, as the phone seems to always be either busy or unattended.
5. I should listen to SubHub more often. SubHub thought that we should just give a check instead of looking for a gift.
6. It's a fine line between being persistent and stubborn. I should've cut my losses once I realized that the toy I was interested in the most was not in stock and bought a gift card. Yet I persisted in finding a gift...
7. Overall experience (shopping coupled with admitting that DH was right): frustrating.