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Trader Joe's cutbacks

No more balloons: http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/04...
If you can't get your children to behave in stores without a bribe, that's not the store's responsibility. Frankly, I never knew they had them to begin with. If I ever saw a kid with one, I didn't notice. One of the TJ's I frequent gives you a ticket to a $25 gift certificate if you bring your own bags, but the other two don't, so possibly the balloon thing wasn't ever offerred in all stores.

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  1. As someone who frequently shops with small kids, it's a bit disappointing. It was a treat for them - at Whole Foods and Andronico's kids are offered food treats, and at Trader Joe's they're offered a balloon. This won't have a significant impact for me personally (my oldest is old enough she won't care, my middle hates getting balloons because he's always devastated when they fly away (so he asks for stickers instead - I wonder if they're eliminating the stickers too?!?) and the baby doesn't know enough to care yet...).

    1. "If you can't get your children to behave in stores without a bribe, that's not the store's responsibility."

      That is such an ugly, cynical spin on a simple treat for a child. If anything, the balloons were there to give the store a festive atmosphere, resultingly replete with happy children. It was a decorative feature and, to a lesser extent, a marketing one. But to call it a behavioral bribe is just ridiculous - especially since, at least from my experiences with my daughter at numerous stores, the balloons were only given upon departure at the check-out register.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Arthur

        The author of the article referenced children having tantrums, and a customer who shops there because of the balloons. It's not a big stretch to imagine a parent cautioning the kidlet that if s/he doesn't behave, s/he won't get a balloon. It's common in standard supermarkets to hear kids being warned that they won't get to choose a candy bar at the checkout if they "keep it up".

        1. re: greygarious

          I read the balloons article and (no pun intended) you've blown its substance way out of proportion. The original author's perspective is light-hearted and rib-nudging. Yours isn't.

          1. re: Arthur

            I realize the author's intent - but the part about the shopper for whom the balloon cessation is a deal-breaker is another example of the abdication of parental responsibility that's being discussed on CH now in the Jamie Oliver and cooking instruction "game" videos on the Food Media& News thread, so I wasn't in a mood to take the piece entirely as fluff.

            Some of today's parents seem to interpret the "it takes a village" adage to mean that raising a healthy, educated, well-mannered child is mainly the responsibility of the village rather than the parents, buffered by the village. Parental duties don't end at preventing tantrums with bribes and games. When I'm shopping, dining out, or at an event and see polite, well-mannered kids I make a point of complimenting them and their parents, but I notice fewer of them every year. I worked in a public service position for over 20 years and saw a marked decline in manners from one generation to the next.

            1. re: greygarious

              All of that from just one throwaway quote in the article? Sorry but that comes across as nothing more than the excuse you needed to climb up on a soapbox and make a mountain out of a molehill.

              "I worked in a public service position for over 20 years and saw a marked decline in manners from one generation to the next." The elders in every generation have made this claim since the dawn of time. Maybe the problem here is simply that, like many in every generation that preceded yours, you've gotten more ornery as you've gotten older.

              1. re: Arthur

                I suspect this has wandered off topic so far that the mods will kill the discussion soon.

                At the TJ's I occasionally visit, the problem is not kids but rather the ill-mannered soccer moms charging around the store yakking on their cell phones.

          2. re: greygarious

            not much different than publix giving a free cookie.

        2. I've never noticed balloons and actually see far fewer children at TJ's than in other grocery stores.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mojoeater

            LIkewise. I can't remember ever seeing balloons given at any TJ's around me. I had no idea they did such a thing. Maybe I just didn't notice? Also agree on the fewer kids observation.

          2. I always looked at it as positive reinforcement of desired behavior, rather than a bribe. Adults earn rewards for good/desired behavior all the time. Go to work = earn a paycheck. Go above and beyond at work = employee of the month. Likewise, parents offer rewards for good behavior by their children. It's actually a pretty important life lesson for kids - you have to earn the things you want. In this case, the kid wants a balloon and earns it by behaving. I don't know that I would change grocery stores to get a free balloon, but I can see why others might if they have kids that really like balloons. My good behavior treat as a kid was usually a quarter for the gumball machine, but I had to get Chiclets and share with my mom.

            1. The balloons don't bother me. What really bothers the hell out of me are those GIANT carts that the kids sit in that look like a car or a fire truck and that take up the whole aisle. I have seen meltdowns when one of those isn't available & the kid has to ride in a regualr cart. TJ's doesn't have those giant things but they do have my other pet peeve---the small, kid sized grocery cart. Little kids can not be trusted to push one of those responsibly. I used to work at TJ's & I must say that every once in a while an adult used one of those little baskets & we would laugh hysterically at them (behind their backs of course).

              3 Replies
              1. re: sparkareno

                ITA, sparkareno!

                Those kiddie carts are, well, maybe not deathtraps but ankle bashers for sure. Especially when the parental unit is distracted looking at something on the shelf while their precious little yuppie spawn is racing down the aisle with no regard for the rest of us.

                I don't blame the kids, it's the parents that need to keep an eye on them and not benignly smile at their little prodigies as they wreak havoc.

                  1. re: coney with everything

                    Heh. Yuppie spawn. At my TJ's some of the little ones are on cell phones while driving their carts. One little girl kept calling her mom's cell phone for fun.

                1. The TJ's in my neighborhood has never given balloons to anybody. Suits me fine. And what's this about kiddie carts? TJ's is a food store, not a theme park.

                  1. People, all we're talking about here are a few balloons that used to be tied to the TJ's cash registers. At checkout, the cashier might ask a child if she/he wanted one. That's it. End of story. As I've stated repeatedly on this page, this entire mean-spirited thread amounts to nothing more than a crotchety OP's excuse to vent.

                    As for the small carts, I see them in every single supermarket these days. While they tend to be used by children, I'm sure their true primary intended purpose is to accommodate little people. No doubt many of the same sorts of petty, misanthropic gripes on this page could be applied to the large electric scooter carts many stores have for elderly or disabled shoppers. Sheesh, what's next? Complaints about the single low urinal in every men's room?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Arthur

                      No one's bitching about disabled people in carts, Arthur. I'm a mom, I'm fine with kids getting balloons. You're right about the OP apparently being opposed to "bribery"--so was I, until I became a mother :)

                      The little shopping carts are not primarily for little people--they are for kids. I don't think it's crotchety to be annoyed by unsupervised children (actually, their parents are the problem) running obliviously rampant down the aisles. Nor is it just at Trader Joes, but I think it's worse at TJ's simply because the aisles at both TJ's I'm familiar with are narrower than other grocery stores.

                      1. re: Arthur

                        Those small carts are definately for kids---that's why some of them "shopper in training" signs on them or "future (insert store name) shopper" I doubt that there are that many little people shopping at any one time that they would need to stock 20 of those little carts. At least I haven't seen it. And if anyone lets little kids use those electric scooters that you refer to, I would be complaining about that too. I don't need to get my shins rammed into while you turn your back picking out tomatoes and your kid has control of a little cart.

                        1. re: Arthur

                          Arthur, I respect your opinions on the LA Board. You are concise and articulate in your descriptions and feelings about the topics. You are here as well, but IMHO, objectively reread the posts and decide who is making a mountain of a molehill. I think you're a great poster, but I think the OP was just having fun. I'm a dad and I can totally relate to both sides of this issue - it's minor in the broad scheme of things as a parent.

                          According to one employee I spoke with, the mini-shopping carts were done away with (at least at the Culver City store on Culver/Washington) because they were found to be a hazard. Little kids were assumed to have enough foresight to handle their carts in a responsible manner. Adults can't do this - why would kids? Kids and their carts were way below eye-level of most shoppers. Too many kids and their carts were causing traffic jams, accidents, etc. Kids were bringing these into the parking structure - just imagine the horrors there. Parents were having even more conflicts with the kids when they tried to pry the shopping carts away from the kids or when the kids took the initiative to load their mini-carts with all sorts of merchandise.

                          It was a well-meaning idea where the consequences weren't considered. I think the store's proximity to the hotel where so many of the actual actors who portrayed the munchkins in "The Wizard of Oz" as well as being in the same general hood as the old MGM main lot (now Sony) played well to with the idea of putting a little whimsy in the store - who knows - but the idea didn't last.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            bulavinaka, I hope you know that I respect your opinions as well. So I took your advice and just now re-read this entire thread. And I'm sorry but I still don't see how you can come to the conclusion that "the OP was just having fun." Referring to the original linked article that is the basis for this thread, the OP even explicitly says, "I wasn't in a mood to take the piece entirely as fluff" right before launching into his "It Takes a Village" sermon from on high. His tone and purpose, as well as that of several others who posted on this thread, does nothing more than lash out at what are presumed to be snotty little kids and their overindulgent parents. When you state that you can "relate to both sides of this issue," can you honestly say you find any merit in the OP's main claim, the breathtakingly nonsensical, time-warping canard that Trader Joe's gave out balloons at checkout to prevent children from having tantrums while shopping _earlier_ in the store?

                            For the record, since your current post focuses on the mini-carts, I never said I approved of their use by children. I just said I suspected that in all likelihood they were originally put in supermarkets to accommodate little people. I readily admit that I may be completely wrong about those being the primary intended users, but I'd like to think that my presumption is at least not irrational from a store policy perspective.

                            I'm hoping this can be my last word on this subject. Let's not you and I get into a lengthy debate about this. I saw which way the tide was flowing here when I gave up on this thread weeks ago.

                            1. re: Arthur

                              Hi Arthur, fair enough. TJ's has always tried to give the perception that they always wanted to do right for their consumers. I wouldn't be surprised if those mini-carts might have had another intended use - TJ's is known for doing things a different way.

                              The whole balloon thing is pretty much dead as far as this thread is concerned, but let me just add that the TJ's I visit regularly (in the Palms hood on Palms and Sepulveda) often "hides" a stuffed toy monkey in the store and offers any kid who finds it a prize of some sort in he/she can tell the front desk where it is. The prize has been little things like fruit leather. But my kids always got a kick out of keeping their eyes peeled for that monkey, and of course, distracted enough for me to get the shopping done. :) See you on the LA Board...

                        2. I just had an experience at TJ's where a Dad had a child who was in meltdown mode and you could tell he didn't know what to do and I knew that the food demo area has goodies for the kids if you can spot the clown above..walked Dad and meltdown boy over who by now is screaming at the top of his lungs and Dad is beside himself and I showed him the clown and the lady let him grab a bunch of goodies and he miraculously became quiet, Dad almost wanted to hug and kiss me and all was right with the world..he stayed quiet for the duration of their shopping trip.
                          The ballons at most of the TJ stores in SD are as you are leaving and you have to ask for them.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            Wow beach Chick, talk about breathing in poison and breathing out perfume! Nice job, I'll bet a LOT of people, employees as well as customers were grateful for your kind actions.