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Apr 12, 2010 10:24 AM

Trader Joe's cutbacks

No more balloons:
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.