So, yesterday I took my preschooler shoe shopping.
It would have been easier to climb a wall of razor blades. Naked. In a blizzard.
Whatever made me think I could place a 3-year-old girl around shelves lined with pink, purple, glitter and licensed characters beckoning from every box and expect her to pick out something conservative?
What made me think she’d pull one box at a time from the shelves? What made me think we could do this in 15 minutes?
Is it asking too much to find presentable, reasonable, dyed in a hue occurring in nature, spare of any licensed characters and flashing lights footwear?
If you’re willing to shell out some bucks, then it’s possible. If you’re looking for bargains, it’s going to be painful — razor blade painful.
Let’s point out right now that I don’t own a “Born to Shop” T-shirt. I like to get in and get out when it comes to shopping, particularly when it involves people with short fuses, small bladders and Dora the Explorer obsessions.
As I struggled to pull the neon purple, blue, pink and red disco shoes off Girl from the East’s feet, I looked lovingly at the display of baby shoes. So cute and sweet. One pair had little cupcake appliques. Another, a simple Mary Jane with a bright red button. But these designs don’t carry over to the toddler side of the aisle.
Want to know why? The baby shoes are sweet and attractive because the mothers, fathers and grandparents are selecting them. The toddler shoes suck because the manufacturers know that the kids with this size feet are aware and making choices.
They are old enough to manipulate and be manipulated with licensed characters. Put Dora or SpongeBob on the shoe and the kids will scream for them until their parents’ ears bleed. They’ll make life so miserable that buying $12 Hannah Montana Croc rip-offs will seem like a day at the spa.
These down- and-dirty marketing tactics reduce parents to our own most desperate measures. Here are my three favorites:
There’s the bait and switch: Allow the shoe to be tried on. Then, when it’s safely off the foot, distract the child’s attention and pitch the shoes into the next aisle. When you arrive at the checkout line, declare the shoes as lost, having fallen out of the cart never to be found again. Ever wonder why you see ugly shoes tucked into bread displays?
Next is the inventory shortage: This is where you say: “Sorry, honey. They don’t have it in your size.” I am using the tactic as long as I can because she’s learning those numbers at a fast clip.
Finally, there is the delayed gratification: With this strategy, you bank on short-term memory failure. “We’ll get it another time,” you promise, knowing you’ll either win this one or live to deeply regret your words.
Your parents pulled one of these on you, didn’t they?
Heck, I’m still waiting for my first car.