I know this post goes against everything I said in my last post. But I needed to share this experience because not only am I NOT the only one this happens to, but it happens TOO OFTEN to young moms and I’ve witnessed it many times!
First, a little bit of a back story:
My daughter’s birthday is on Canada Day. I used to do those over the top, expensive Pinterest-worthy parties. I spent way too much on treat bags, bought craft supplies and made everything, planned months ahead of time and stressed about it over and over. Now that she’s older I have cut back – WAY back. She invites one or two friends over for a sleepover and movies and instead of extravagant gifts she is given one hundred dollars to spend how she pleases. This amount of money is not even a quarter of what I used to send on her parties.
When I say Pinterest-worthy, I mean it. One year was glow in the dark/Monster High theme. Every guest was outfitted with glow sticks (necklace, bracelet, earrings, everything), I changed every single light bulb in the house to a black light one, we made fairy dust night light jars, I painted glow in the dark designs on their cheeks, I made a Monster High doll cake with a real Monster High doll, the whole place was covered in neon Bristol board and more. Another year she had an Alice in Wonderland party. I made her an Alice tutu dress from tulle and myself a Queen of Hearts dress, I hung five full decks of cards from the ceiling, our hallway was made entirely into a rabbit hole, our door was made into the talking door from the movie and I made paper mache fascinators for every guest. And another year she had a My Life Sleepover where I spent three months making tiny party hats, sleeping bags, sundaes, newspapers, face masks and more for the dolls and every guest brought their eighteen inch doll for the sleepover. These parties were never small either – most of them totaled up to ten guests each.
After years of doing these types of parties I finally said enough. I had my middle child through all of this too and his parties were just as big – Ninja Turtles theme with our home made into a sewer hang out, Paw Patrol theme complete with adopting stuffed puppies with adoption certificates, Farm theme with tractor tire mac and cheese, etc. I decided to bring it down and make it more simple. We still do cake or cupcakes and usually one small gift to open on the morning or evening of their birthday. We still blow out candles and sing Happy Birthday. But instead of the extravagant parties and insanely expensive gifts, we do one or two friends for a movie night and hand over one hundred dollars. Each of them get to spend their money how they want and where they want. This has always worked every year, until this year.
This year my daughter received her birthday money early because we are going camping over the long weekend and won’t get home until the afternoon of her birthday. By the time we get home, unpack, eat supper and blow out candles we will all be exhausted so we decided to kind of celebrate early. She got twice the amount this year because she really needed some new clothes and I budgeted like crazy to be able to pitch in with my spouse. She got her birthday money today after school and I took her to a local store to find some new clothes, which Daddy said to do. I don’t normally shop at this store, mainly because it’s expensive but also because my kids are still growing so I would rather buy cheaper clothes that I don’t care if they only wear once before growing out of them. I’ve been to this store before by myself and never had an issue but today told me everything about the owners and employees.
I arrived at the store, three kids in tow, and started to look at the new arrivals. I don’t get to go out without the kids very often and with my spouse working long hours, most places (including this one) are closed by the time he’s home to watch the younger two. I knew the new arrivals would be expensive but this was my daughter’s birthday and she deserved to spend her birthday money on nice stuff. I was helping her look for something for about five minutes and that’s when it started. The employee said “um, the sale racks are over here,” gesturing to three racks of clothing that all looked way too old for my almost eleven year old daughter. Normally I wouldn’t pay any attention to something like this but this wasn’t a friendly way of telling me where the deals were. The way she said it was to tell me that I couldn’t afford what I was looking at. I politely said “okay thanks, we will get there.” Then I noticed something else. Every time I touched a garment this employee was right behind me inspecting it. Every time I sifted through a rack then moved on to another this employee was right there sifting through everything I had just looked at. She was following me around and making sure I wasn’t stealing anything. This has happened to me many times before but this time it hurt. It hurt deep down to my core because I was simply trying to take my daughter somewhere that she could find some nice clothes. I didn’t say anything, I just kept looking – and watching. Her piercing gaze on me every second that I was there.
My youngest started having a fit not long after my daughter found a pair of shorts she loved. I tried to control him the best I could but his rubber soled shoes were scratching my freshly sunburnt legs and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was embarrassed enough as it was so I decided to let my daughter keep looking while I took my younger two outside to calm down. My middle child was starting to get a little bored himself so I figured it was the best thing to do. I thought maybe if we left, my daughter would be able to shop without this woman breathing down her neck. I took the boys out to the car where we sat for about two minutes before I decided to go back inside. I got the umbrella stroller out of the trunk, got the youngest buckled in and told my older son that we would try not to be too much longer. Before heading back in I grabbed the youngest a book to look at while we finished my daughter’s shopping. We were only outside for maybe five minutes but by the time I got back inside the store to my daughter, the store employee had given her one of the most expensive pairs of shorts to try on and was in mid-sentence talking her into buying them. I interrupted as politely as I could “let’s see them on you chick”. The employee gave a smirk and walked a few feet away – not too far because gee I might steal something. My daughter took off the shorts before showing me, she came out of the dressing curtain with them in her hand saying she didn’t really like the way they looked on her but they were really nice so maybe she would get them. This was brain washing.
She started looking at other things again – on the sale rack of course – then turned and asked how much she would have left if she got both pairs of shorts. I looked at the tags and almost puked. This woman had just tried to take advantage of my daughter while I was outside. The first pair was forty dollars which wasn’t bad even though that was the sale price (I’m a bargain shopper) but the second pair was seventy dollars. For an almost-eleven year old who is five foot five and still growing, these shorts were FAR from being appropriate and this employee knew it. I had taken the chance more than once to tell this woman that we were here shopping for my daughter’s eleventh birthday presents. This woman knew she was only eleven and still tried to shove seventy dollar shorts in her hands. I glared back at the woman this time. I told my daughter that these shorts were really nice and she could get them if she wanted to but they would most likely only fit her for this summer. She would be spending almost half of her birthday money on them for a few months of wear. She decided not to get them and looked for a top to go with the other pair instead. The only top she could find that she liked was forty dollars – again, more expensive than I would normally get but this was her money and she deserved to get what she wanted. I bit my lip as much as I could while this woman ushered her back and forth to the dressing room – which was a curtain across a small doorway.
My daughter finished looking around, decided the shorts and shirt that she found was enough for now and we headed up to the cash desk to see if there were any accessories. She found a scrunchie and said that was all she wanted for now. I told the employee that we were ready to pay and of course she was right behind me watching so she already knew. She rushed a little further away saying she would be right there, as if she was pretending that she wasn’t right behind me seconds ago. She rang everything through, gave us the total which was one hundred and seven dollars (FOR ONE OUTFIT) and made a comment under her breath about putting something back if I couldn’t afford it. Thankfully none of my kids heard the comment and I took out a wad of cash from my wallet. I thrust one hundred and ten dollars at her and asked if that was enough, claiming that I had a lot going on and “my brain was fried from stress” so I couldn’t count it. She counted it in silence and nodded that it was enough. I ushered my three kids out of the store quietly and held back tears while I got them into the car.
We got home and I immediately went out to the deck to get some alone time. I needed a few minutes to catch my breath and try to dismiss the anger that was boiling up inside me. I so badly wanted to march back to that store and punch that woman in the face. I don’t normally shop at expensive stores but I don’t mind spending the money on decent clothes when I can. This woman made me feel completely inadequate.
Last time I went to this store I was by myself shopping for jeans for my spouse. I was shown the sale rack politely that time, the young man telling me that the jeans on that rack were on for great deals. He spent an hour with me finding two pairs that would fit my spouse’s taste perfectly. I grabbed my younger brother a shirt and happily left. So what I don’t understand is what was different about this time?
Was it because I had my kids with me? We spent about a half hour at the store today, looking at everything from sale racks, new arrivals, shoes, backpacks, and more. Aside from my youngest having a fit, my kids were all very well behaved. My middle child even ran to hold the door open for a woman that he spotted coming in – not because she needed help, just because that’s the way he is. My daughter apologized every time she tried something on and decided not to get it – because that’s the way she is. We were all dressed in decent clothes, they were clean with no holes or stains. Neither I nor my kids looked poor. So was it because I am a young mom?
This woman assumed that I couldn’t afford the new arrivals the minute we walked in, she followed me around like I was going to steal something, she glared out of the corner of her eyes at me, she tried to take advantage of my daughter, then after it all she told me I could put something back if I couldn’t afford it. I’m not sure why exactly this happened but I do know I will never shop at this store again. I don’t like being treated like I’m trash or don’t deserve something. We may not have a lot of money but my little family lives comfortably thanks to my hard-working spouse and we CAN afford to splurge once in a while – ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids.
So here’s a tip: if you’re a store owner or store employee, treat EVERY customer like they’re royalty. If you’re a young mom like me, spend your money at the places where you’re appreciated. Don’t shop at the expensive local clothing stores when Giant Tiger suits the need just as well. Or better yet, find a direct sales consultant or home business that sells clothing and order from them. I can guarantee they’ll appreciate your business more than any expensive clothing store.
**MOST of our small local stores are very appreciative of any and all customers they get but this one in particular will never get a good recommendation from me in the future. I shop at a lot of our small local shops and have never been treated like this at any other store, only this one (which will remain unnamed but if you REALLY need to know, send me a message. I’ll happily tell you.)**
**I would also like to add that this is the first time this has happened at THIS store, but not the first time it has happened to me. I also realize that not EVERY local clothing store is like this, however most of the ones I have been to are. Including those in other towns.**