Today we decided to dive headfirst into the frightening world of baby merchandise. Armed with pages of your generous recommendations spurred by our previous post, we headed up north to Lincolnwood to the awesomely named Lazar’s Juvenile Furniture. Thankfully it’s the target audience that’s juvenile — the furniture itself was not actively hurling Yo Mamma jokes at me as I walked past. Our mission was simply research-oriented; we wanted to get our hands on some strollers and car seats and carriers and figure out what felt best.
We spent a few minutes floundering among the rows of strollers. It was a modest showroom — probably an eighth of the space dedicated to the same merchandise at a Baby Warehouse-type store (not that I would know, having taken a blood oath to never walk inside one). But the choices were still vast enough that we required help. I found the nearest salesman, a middle-aged, bearded, nice-looking probably-Jewish fellow who captured my attention so valiantly for thirty minutes that I neglected to catch the name on his tag, so we’ll just call him Arnie.
Arnie took a fractal-like approach to salesmanship, absorbing each of our questions and firing answers back at us in a way that left more questions than we had before. We’d try to focus in on a single decision, and he’d zoom back out and attempt to make us reconsider our whole approach. It verged on mind-numbing, and it would have driven me crazy if wasn’t obvious that he was probably right. We had come in with a very precise idea — that we wanted a car seat-to-stroller combo set. It’s de rigueur for new parents, and seemed to make sense to us. What Arnie was trying to get across was that we weren’t considering our criteria very well. Maybe that design isn’t for us. We’re going to be doing a lot of neighborhood walking — there won’t be as much car-to-stroller transitions as if we lived in the ‘burbs. Our kid’s probably going to be pretty big — shortening the time a transitional car seat will be applicable. Etc, etc. It felt very much like the afternoon we had our Dyson-adoring minds blown by the savvy salesman at the vacuum shop. We had a lot to learn.
Don’t worry; we didn’t get sucked in. We never came close to reaching for our wallets. Arnie showed off some other strollers, and we spent some time rolling them around, seeing how truthfully they can be folded up with one hand. The one that impressed most was the City Mini, by Baby Jogger. Seems good for the city, very comfortable, and it’s ridiculous easy to collapse. And, if we do decide to buy into the infant car seat, we can get an attachment that binds the seat and stroller into one. Strangely, it’s not actually designed for jogging.
On the way home we stopped by Borders to pick up the much adored Baby Bargains book — the several recommendations from friends had only been buttressed by the three couples that we spied actively referencing it at Lazar’s. They were out of stock at Border’s, but the sales clerk was happy to offer her own personal recommendations.
Saleswoman: “You should check [so-and-so]. I found a fabulous high-quality collapsable stroller there for fifty bucks.”
Interested stranger: “Where is that place?”
Saleswoman: “On Armitage and Sheffield.”
Stranger: “Um… are you sure that’s still around?”
Saleswoman: “Not really. My daughter turns 20 on Monday.”
Strangers: always willing to help, not always in the mostly helpful way.