Needle in a Haystack

I just got back from Babies-R-Us, and I have to admit that I have never been more thoroughly disgusted in the physical arrangement of a retail outlet.

I was visiting Babies-R-Us since my boss is registered there for her new “little pig” as she calls it. So what did I need first? The kiosk that would let me print her registry. Where was it? Hidden behind a giant desk, disguised as a regular pillar holding the building up. On the plus side, it took longer to find the kiosk than it did to print the registry. BUT, I did have a complaint with it as well. Just because you sell things for babies, doesn’t mean the interface you use to allow people to print registries needs to be catered to a 6 year old. First of all, use a keyboard style format rather than displaying letters in alphabetical order. It was honestly difficult to type my boss’s name. Second, place more focus on the important “buttons” that can be used on screen, like “PRINT”, instead of hiding it in a small, hidden circle in the middle on the right of the page (the last place an eye looks at on a web-page). A quick print, on putrid yellow paper and we were off.

I don’t have an example of the registry that was printed, but I do not jest when I offer than it was so poorly categorized I was unsure where to even start my search. The section listed on the registry was the Imaginarium. No freakin’ clue where that was, because there were no areas of the store named “Imaginarium”. After browsing for a quarter of an hour, I decided to enlist the help of Mrs. Khaki Pant Green Polo. She took a quick glance at the paper, and headed towards the entirely opposite section of the store. I was excited to say the least, I should have done this 10 minutes ago. But then something strange happened… she stopped dead in her tracks and looked at the paper again. Suddenly a chilling look spread across her face as she looked at me and said “Sometimes people register for things at Toys-R-Us and they show up on our registries”. Then she turned and walked on.

What the hell was I suppose to make of this? Where were we going if the item I wanted was across the street at Toys-R-Us? I wanted answers, but I was finding myself wanting to get out of the store more, so I wandered on with my tree looking friend.

We stopped in front of a section of toys. As we looked through the toys, I noticed a huge problem with the way Babies-R-Us, and now that I think about it Toys-R-Us have in common. The sections of the store is broken down in a simplistic heirarchy; clothes, strollers, bedding, and other. The problem is that most of the things in the “other” section are then grouped by manufacturer, rather than product.

The delimma this poses, is that someone with zero brand recognition when the product concerns… babies… as well as product recognition with items listings on the registry abbreviated to something to the tune of “BR Winkle Rt6”. What the hell does BR Winkle Rt6 even tell me about the product? Evidently my tree friend didn’t know either.

I wasn’t out of all luck yet though, as the registry listed the maker of the toy. Wouldn’t you know it, right when I was about ready to give up, there they were. All of the toys and “other” items Kids America, Inc. makes. Pacifiers, teeters, butt-wipe dispensers, baby-butt paste, and developmental toys. But where oh where was my Winkle? The helper was stunned. She had gotten to the section, but because she had no idea was a winkle was, she stood, staring piercingly at the end-cap.

Luckily, my brilliance was well suited for the situation, as the price for the item was listed boldly on the registry, as well as the tags the items were hanging on. Going through tag by tag, I found the item… $7.99… BR Winkle Rt6. Success. It was a moment of jubilation really… fireworks… a choir singing hallelujah… a marvelous spectacle for all to see. But behind the smoke and fireworks, I shook my head slightly left and right… I wasn’t done shopping.

Longer story shorter, I told the helper the item I wanted, and sent her on my way while ti browsed the strollers. By the way, they have some nice stollers now-a-days, but that’s another story. Back to the 2nd search. It seemed to have been only a few minutes, and my helper returned, 2nd toy in hand. This was the way to do it. I headed to the checkout, and had my items totaled and walked out the door. As I got home, and shared my purchases, I noticed a very big problem… my second toy was not what I had wanted at all. It was called a Skwish, and cots $4 more than what I had requested, and worst of all was not anywhere on the registry. Wow. When B-R-U had earned my trust, and I was feeling satisfied with my experience, it was snatched from right under me. I felt violated.

I don’t offer this as a point to warn people from shopping at Babies-R-Us, but merely as an advisory to anyone working in a retail store that is as logistically flawed as BRU. If you work in a retail setting as this, I would recommend taking a serious look at how you expect people to find what you are selling. Had I not been on a mission to keep my job, I might have not expended as much of my time searching for a present that suited me. I might just have given up after a few minutes and headed to Wal-Mart, where they might not have a Winkle, but then, I didn’t really know what a Winkle was, so it wouldn’t have mattered at that point anyway.

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