This post has been brewing for the last two years but I’m finally about to boil over. I am sick of shops that are not accessible! I don’t mean little stores that have narrow doorways or limited space; I accepted two years ago that I’d no longer be able to get into those. I even waved goodbye to my favourite little Italian coffee shop as we could no longer get through the door once I moved from a tandem buggy to a side by side. I mean big department stores that have the space, but set up the shop floor in a way which makes my life hell!
Since having twins I’ve been forced to limit the number of shops I visit. In my local town, I can get into Next, M&S, BHS, TK Max, Wilkinsons, Argos and Debenhams, and that’s more or less it.
Lately, the bigger stores seem to be making little changes that are making things harder for me at the checkouts. First it was Debenhams. They created a narrow walkway to the checkout made of those heavy metal posts and a strip of rope – like you get in the post office and bank. In order to get through it I had to move the posts myself to make the space bigger. Then it was Argos – I waited patiently for the slow automatic doors to open, only they stopped about three inches too narrow for my buggy to fit through. I had to manually force them wider myself, despite looking into the store in the hope a member of staff would come to help. (This may just have been a temporary fault with the doors – I did report it to the staff inside so I’m hoping it won’t do this again).
Then I had a nightmare in TK Max. Much as I love the shop (because it’s so big and easy to get around), getting to the checkout has started to become more difficult. They have a long queuing system where one side is posts with rope to keep you in line and the other is a long panel of toys, food and bits and bobs they want to tempt you to buy as you wait. It’s about 10m long so it’s not something you can quickly swing past as you go to pay. As the narrow walkway is the width (exactly) of my double buggy, it means whoever is seated on the side of the shelves has a field day grabbing at everything. On Saturday there was nobody waiting, so I thought I could just whizz straight through, using speed to stop the boys from grabbing. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised there was a lady actually shopping from the shelves. I got half way down the walkway before I realised, and as it was so narrow I couldn’t pass her and she couldn’t escape. I patiently stood and waited. T1 saw his chance and grabbed at the shelf. Instead of taking a packet of helpless pink sweets, he went straight for the hard stuff and pulled off a 1m piece of metal shelving and started to wave it around! I grabbed it off him straight away, and the lady, seeing my predicament, asked me to back up all the way so that she could get out and let me pass.
I almost hoped that T1 would pull everything off the shelf on our way past just to prove a point, but unfortunately he didn’t. I told the lady at the till that I’d left a big chunk of their shelf on the floor and she just said it was fine.
But it’s not fine! I hate the stress of trying to get through shops. So many shops aren’t even single-buggy friendly, let alone twin-friendly. And imagine if you were in a wheelchair and weren’t able to stand up to force the automatic doors to open a bit wider, or to move the posts to get to the checkout. Being in a wheelchair must be a million times more frustrating as there is no end in sight to it – at least I’m able to shop occasionally without the boys, and one day they won’t need a juggernaut to transport them.
Earlier this week I actually got stuck in WHSmiths because they’ve added lots of little displays down the narrow aisles. I tried to get a magazine and failed, leaving the shop in tears of stress. I’m never going in there again with my buggy. Ever.
Come on shops, please think about ALL of your customers when you decide to rearrange your stores. My money used to get spread across town, now it’s limited to the handful of shops that are the most accessible. I’m not the only one with access requirements, so at the very least making your shop floors accessible to more people will increase your revenue!
I totally sympathise with this post. I have 16 month old twins and shopping with them gets so hard at this time of year with all the extra bits in shops. And people are so rude! I came home from town in tears yesterday as people made me feel like I should not be on the street let alone in the shops. How dare I when it is so busy!!! People need to think about access for all, even those of us who dare to have a double buggy x x x x
Don’t get me started on how rude people can be! The worst is the people who choose to walk through the automatic doors even though there is a perfectly good opening door next to it, yet they expect everyone with a buggy or wheelchair to wait for them! Grrrr.
I have trouble in shops with a single pushchair do god knows what it’s like for you! Granted, my pushchair is a big 3 wheeler off road all retain monster but still not as large as a double & sometimes I look in shops and carry on walking cos I can see I won’t get round. The other thing that makes me laugh is that often shops have ladies & children’s stock upstairs with no lift?! I went into a Clarks and the children’s shoes were upstairs and they suggested I leave my pushchair laden with all my shopping downstairs. Yeah right. A boots also had their baby dept upstairs with no escalator or lift. And wo betide anyone who attempts to take pushchair on an escalator.
I feel your frustrations…..and I’ve only got a single!!
What sort of crazy person would put shoes for children upstairs when they don’t have a lift?! Our Boots is pretty good – they don’t have a lift on the shop floor, but they let you go up in their goods lift round the back with an assistant. There is always a work around solution to access if shops are willing to think about it.
Sorry, there’s a few predictive text errors in my reply!!!
Musings from a Mum says
I know exactly what you mean. It’s really depressing at times. WH Smith here is also terrible and lots of shops have steps up into them! Then there’s the Clarks shop where the children’s shoes are down a flight of stairs but nowhere to leave buggy. The lift in TK Maxx is really tiny can just squeeze tandem buggy in (forget side by side one- no chance) and it’s down a narrow aisle. Just writing this is making me cross!
I appreciate some shops don’t have the space and I won’t be a pushchair user for ever but it also makes me cross to think of the disabled and old people using sticks and frames who must view shopping as a nightmare and therefore don’t go out and become socially isolated.
And don’t get me started on cafes and restaurants…
If shops have stairs and no lift then they should think about where they put their stock – surely it’s not that difficult to put things parents are likely to need downstairs?! I understand that some shops aren’t big enough for a lift, but staff should be trained to offer to help as soon as they see someone with a stick, wheelchair or buggy. If needs be they could go upstairs to find the product for the customer. Instead, staff just seem to ignore you when you’re struggling which just makes me even more angry!
Couldn’t have put it better myself!! I have to pay someone to babysit so i can do my christmas shopping. Next year i am fitting bullbars to the front of the buggy 🙂
Ha ha, Sarah I can just see a new buggy product in the making there. Patent it quick! I did all of my Christmas shopping online this year, but I go into town to meet friends for coffee and like to pop in the shops while I’m there. I think I’ve had enough for this year though so will go into the (large and accessible) coffee shop, drink my brew and then head on home again with my money firmly in my purse. And there was me thinking the country is in economic meltdown and businesses need us to spend our money.
I feel your pain. That’s why I’m sticking by my tandem with my 16-month-old twins, avoid shops as much as possible, do as much shopping as I can online, and quietly thank my local supermarket, bank and post office for being accessible.
I loved my tandem until the one in the back started kicking the one in the front! We’re at the stage now where we walk most of the time but that opens up a whole new round of issues (how to stop them grabbing things off shelves!!) Thank goodness for reins and wrist straps!
I’m looking into reins, but I can’t decide. Which ones do you use?
I have a set of twin reins. These come in a set with 2 harnesses with long detachable leads. It means you can unclip them and leave them in the harness in their car seats (which you can’t do with the backpack reins). They also come with an adult hands free waist belt but I’ve never used that. Now they’re older I also use wrist straps which stop them from running off. I’ve just been sent a set of Kool Kangaroo reins (these are waist belt, hands free retractable reins) so watch this space as the review will be up soon. T1 always runs off so I have to keep them attached to me somehow!
I’ve read nothing but bad reviews on backpack reins, so I’m not considering them at all. I’m worried about spending money on twin reins as my hubby claims that reins in general might not work, i.e. the kids can slip out of them so they might not be of any use.
I will watch this space, I find your blog very enjoyable. Thank you for your replies:-))
I think the backpack ones can be good but they just need to be taken off before they sit down which is a bit of a hassle. I know parents who’ve gone from buggy to walking with their children, it just depends how trustworthy they are! How old are yours? As soon as mine started walking they’d run in opposite directions, and they still can’t resist running onto the road if they see something on the other side so for me they’ve been essential. One of them always ignores if I shout stop which is a nightmare! I started with the twin reins around 18mth and it was really hard. Around 22 months they got the hang of it (I used to practice walking them around the corner and back). When they turned two the wrists straps became more useful as I walk holding their hands but have a fail safe if they try to run off! I picked my twin reins up on eBay for about £15 second hand so it’s worth keeping an eye out. I’ve never had them slip out of them as they are adjustable, so they won’t fail on you. But you may end up with a tantrum where one lies down and screams and refuses to move. If possible, don’t give in – I did and then the other had a tantrum and I ended up having to attempt to carry two almost two year olds home and it wasn’t fun! Never again! (I did a post about one of our walking incidents last year if you can find it!) Glad you enjoy reading it – I think it’s good to share what we’re all going through. xx
Mine are nearly 17 months. For the first time this week I have taken them out of the pushchair without another person to supervise. I did it in the middle of the empty park, twice the size of a football field. It worked quite well. I’m not going near the street just yet! And I can’t imagine going somewhere without the pushchair anytime soon, even if they will be walking the whole distance – because I definitely want to avoid having to carry even just one home. You can call me lazy and weak, if you want:-) xx
No way, I call you sensible! It’s bloomin difficult walking with twins, especially at that age – have you read this post as it’ll make you feel better! http://talesofatwinmum.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/taking-twin-toddlers-for-a-walk-tantrums-and-the-terrible-twos/ Trust me though, it does get easier. I found 15m – 20m the hardest and then when they got to two things really did improve so hang in there. xx