Friday, February 12, 2010

Retail Rant/Rave: Target Bathrooms

Given that I am now a proud member of the navel-gazing blogosphere, I've decided to start airing my opinions (however irrelevant and based on whichever side of the bed I woke up on that day) about various retailers that I've encountered while trying to live up to the ideals I've mentioned here. Because we all can't live off of our homesteads (especially my apartment-dwelling hipster friends), we do occasionally have to transact in the commercial marketplace. I'm hoping these posts will lead to discussions of what we as consumers should demand of the marketplace in order for us to be able to participate in business we believe in.


Today's Rant: Target Bathrooms

From the Target line of "Dude Diaper Bags"

Now, anyone who knows me is painfully aware of my passionate LOVE for the Red Bullseye. I go into that store at 11am, and I'm one of the last ones they are kicking out with their pushbrooms at night. I buy everything from Target: clothes, accessories, food, furniture, baby toys, movies...I'm pretty much a Target merch magpie. In fact, I will make the hour+ drive (can you believe there isn't a Target closer than that?!? I know, boggles the mind) with glee in my heart. My friend Ben once said that women like his wife (my BF, who is a perfectly sensible person) completely forget how to drive when they are on their way to Target because they get so excited to shop there. I'm not a great driver to begin with, but I will gladly accept this stereotype, because it's kinda true.

My particular rant with Target, however, has to do with a recent visit we made with the whole family--Joe, Bill, and I. After an hour in the car, diaper changes needed to be made. Now parents out there reading this will acknowledge the frustrating tendency of commercial properties to only locate changing tables in the women's bathrooms, which not only puts the burden of diapering on the mother, it completely alienates guys who are shopping alone with their children. Target, and an increasing number of properties, have started adding "Family Restrooms" to their buildings, which is usually a single-toilet restroom with one sink and a changing table, but with an open-gender pass for either parent to bring their kids, also of either gender, into the restroom together. The downside to these restrooms is that they need to be cleaned/stocked more frequently because there is only one stall/sink.

On the day in question, the family restroom at our Target was locked. We knocked, got no response, waited for a few minutes, and Bill offered to just take Joe into the men's room to change him. I'm a very lucky woman because my husband fully participates in the public gauntlet of running errands with a baby, including changing diapers. Well, guess what. No changing tables in the men's room. Really Target? You couldn't have ordered one more table when you were getting the other two for the women's and family restroom? It would have been a minor annoyance quickly forgotten, but as I was coming out of the restroom with a freshly diapered baby, I noticed there was a single dad with a VERY new baby doing the knock-and-wait routine outside of the family restroom. He was clearly by himself, avec diaper bag, and looking a little desperate. I immediately went into Mama Bear mode and tracked down an employee to tell her that the family restroom was locked and she blinked at me and asked if I'd knocked to see if someone was in there. By the time I could wrestle up someone to come and change out the toilet paper (the reason it was locked--no one felt like doing it), the poor dad had given up and taken his baby out in the January cold to change him in the car. It left me wondering how many other dads had been sent to the cold car that day in pursuit of a place to tend to their infants while the door had been locked.

Now, for a retail chain that will happily market a wide range of products to this demographic--the diaper-changing dad (the above pictured bags are 2 of 12 different designs in the "Dude Diaper Bag" line)--why can't they pony up the cost of a changing table in the men's room? With the modern American family coming in so many different configurations, it seems a little incredible that such a typically in-touch retailer would completely alienate potentially HALF of their parental customers from safely and comfortably caring for their diapered children. Believe me, I'm not griping because I want more places where I know I can get out of changing a diaper by pawning Joe off on Bill. I'm thinking about fathers like the young guy with the tiny baby strapped to his chest in a Bjorn, diaper bag on his shoulder, feeling helpless because a major retailer was essentially telling him that the needs of his child were not as important because he was a man.

No comments:

Post a Comment