By Tiffani C. Dawson
Black Friday weekend at Queens Center Mall isn’t just for bargain-hunting adults. The busiest shopping weekend of the year has turned some stores into kids’ zones, with strollers and tired or unruly children filling the aisles.
“Does the whole family really need to come shopping with you?” complained Julia Rodriguez, as she dropped her three large shoe bags on the floor and plopped down on a bench in the mall’s seating area. “I came out yesterday and I came back today and the amount of little rugrats running around Steven Madden was ridiculous. And there were just way too many children in Michael Kors. They touch everything!”
Rodriguez, a real estate agent, began shopping on Black Friday. It was now Saturday, and she had spent almost $1,200 in two days on shoes and bags. She said the Black Friday weekend is a great time to treat herself, especially since she just made a big commission off of a house sale. But, Rodriguez adds, she would have spent even more — her maximum budget was $1500 — if it hadn’t been for the little girl who collided with her at Macy’s, causing her to drop her iced coffee down the front of her dress, producing the big brown stain now visible on her tan dress; so, instead, Rodriguez cut her shopping spree short.
Rodriguez wasn’t alone in her frustration. A sales associate at Aldo, a shoe retailer, who would give her name only as LaTasha, said more women seemed to be shopping with their children than usual on Black Friday weekend.
Aldo was offering 30 percent discounts on some limited shoe displays. And the store was crowded even on Saturday, mostly with women, at least five of whom were shopping at Aldo with small children still in baby carriages. One little girl threw a tantrum, throwing a shoe from a display out into the hallway, after her mother told her that she could not go to McDonald’s.
“The kids are aggravated,” said LaTasha, before going in the back of the store to retrieve a pair of red patent leather pumps for a costumer. “Their parents woke them up in the wee hours of the morning to stand on long lines. And little kids don’t understand compromise, it is one thing for them to have to wake up to be in Toys ‘R’ Us, but we don’t sell baby shoes in here.”
When asked if she felt that the children were affecting sales in the store LaTasha laughed. “People with kids are just smarter shoppers,” she explained. “We always joke that the more kids they have, the less stuff they’re actually going to buy. People with kids rarely spend over $200 in here, but a woman in her mid-20s to early 30s, who comes in by herself or with some friends may easily spend over $400.”
At some stores, strollers put a damper on business. “I’m a mother as well but this store isn’t big enough for these strollers,” said a sales woman at Michael Kors who would only give her name as Rebecca. “Our customers don’t want to have to shimmy their way through the aisles because people decided to bring their bad little kids in here. It’s difficult to make a sale when I can’t quickly get to a customer admiring a bag because I have to navigate around two little kids running around the store, and hoping over a baby carriage.”