Please, help a desperate mother. I’m not known for my driving ability, so why oh why, dear shop owners, do you make your aisles so damn difficult to navigate with a pushchair?
I’m lucky enough to live close by to two mini supermarkets. They’re so handy, and I used to swan in at any time of day to pick up the odd essential or treat. Not any more. If you see an irate looking mother pushing a cute baby boy around in a beige Silvercross, chuntering loudly to herself – that will be me!
Since having a baby – whom I tend to transport in a pushchair because he’s heavy – I’ve pretty much given up on using my local Co-op. It’s a crying shame, because I love their deli range and fresh bread. But seriously, it’s almost impossible to get down the aisles. The trouble started when I was pregnant. The aisles are literally so close together that two people can’t get past each other without twisting, or – in my case – awkwardly reversing. Add a pram to the mix and you are doomed.
At Christmas, some smart Alec decided to park a giant Santa right by the door, obstructing the aisle as you came in. I took great delight in ramming my pram wheels into that. I mean, seriously.
Don’t even get me started on Sainsbury’s. Too late! I’ve started! No matter what time of day I go in there, they’re restocking the shelves. Those trolley cages are everywhere, blocking up the aisles; it drives me craaaazy! How quickly do those shelves empty? Really? Give us customers some goddam space to shop. Isn’t that the whole point of being open?
The problem doesn’t stop there. It’s everywhere.
For instance, yesterday I wanted to pop into Waterstones to get Ralphie a new book for bedtime. But pop I didn’t. Until now, I’ve happily used the escalators that go down into the store without even thinking about how pushchair and wheelchair users get in. Turns out, you have to go to the side entrance and they have one of those wheelchair platform lifts that fit one person in at a time. And for health and safety reasons, the staff have to operate it for you. Cue an awkward 30 seconds as you whir down oh so slowly to ground level.
Once I was in the store, it actually got worse. Someone has dotted tables with books on everywhere. It was like they’d set up some kind of joke obstacle course. I had to weave my way to the back of the store, dodging awkwardly angled table legs and piles of books. I crashed into a few and I’m not even sorry. In fact, I think at times I did it on purpose.
I don’t think I can bring myself to go back. Amazon, you win.
And Debenhams. You are just as bad. I eventually found the lifts (I’ve quickly learned that they’re usually at the back of the store) and I pushed the button to get to the ground floor. I exited and before me were some bloomin’ stairs. What?! So I got out the lift and had to use another mini lift to get down the flight of stairs. What kind of sick joke is this?
The list goes on, and on, and on. It’s making my blood boil just thinking about it! And I’m just a pushchair user. My situation is temporary (ish). What about people in wheelchairs? Or mothers with double buggies? What on earth do they do?
Mr J. Sainsbury, Mr Co-op, Mr Waterstones and all you other shop owners out there, I hope you are listening. There’s a reason people prefer to shop online these days. Your store layouts are really not helping matters.
An irate mother
PS. You’ve actually succeeded in making shopping my new pet hate. I hope you are pleased with yourselves.