So a SAHD and a baby go to a store…

Bean sits in the Ikea return lounge -- just another stop in the life of a SAHD and a baby.

Bean hangs in the Ikea Return lounge -- just another stop in the life of a SAHD and a baby.

SAHD life includes a considerable amount of shopping. This is compared to the pre-SAHD life that many noble gentlemen have led in the past — an existence relegated to the 7-11 for supplies and cold beer.  But SAHD life is dramatically altered.  The SAHD must go to the store because the breadwinner is at friggin work and not sitting around in their PJ’s while the child sleeps.  SAHDS, can’t say; “Sorry honey, I can’t pick up any fresh fruit today, I have to go to the pool and I have an afternoon playdate.” That goes over like a lead balloon.

Whether it be going to the grocery store for food or picking up some baby-proofing equipment at a department store, the dynamic SAHD is a roving “can-do” machine ready to knock off errands with vigor. So what do you need to be properly equipped? Knowledge my friend. Knowledge.

The SAHD shopping experience, in all its varieties, is different than mommy shopping.  Mommy shopping is quite frankly, pedestrian.  We’ve seen 10 million moms out with their babies or kids. It’s nothing to raise and eyebrow over or take a second glance at. But a grown man with an adorable baby or toddler? That’s a sight that doesn’t fit the normal paradigm. So where does a SAHD shop and what retail establishments are the most SAHD friendly? Punditdad has done extensive research and created a simple algorithm based on 3 major factors:

Family Friendly: Does this store have decent looking carts that are covered in grime? Does the cart have a suitable restraining device so baby doesn’t do a nosedive into the pork chops? Family restrooms or diaper changing stations? This stuff is only important until it matters MOST.

Femininity: Some stores are so overwhelmingly female that a less-confident SAHD can be intimidated or uneasy in the shopping experience.  Are you going to purchase tampons or deodorant for your wife if there are 3 ladies in the aisle? No, you’re going to go to the meats or beer section until the area clears! It’s important to be prepared before you enter.

Customer Service/Efficiency: The hallmark factor for any man’s shopping experience; how fast can I get in and out. Long lines or crowded checkouts? Maze like aisles or confusing product arrangement? Punditdad dad views this as one of the most critical factors.

Now that we have the criteria set, let’s take a look at our stores.

Your local grocery store: In my case it’s Albertsens here in California.  Most stores are one of 3 major chains (Punditdad has shopped in most) in America; Kroger, Safeway or Supervalu stores.  Some are cleaner than others and some are newer than others but that doesn’t change the SAHD factor.  Undoubtedly, an active SAHD will go the grocery store at least once every week so finding the best SAHD friendly store is critical. My Albertsen’s is the one place I go where the Bean is a star; the checkout ladies coo over her, the other patrons smile and wave at her, hell, even the manager told me how cute she was the other day.  Why? Again, they see hundreds of moms with babies but much fewer SAHDS.  The grocery store takes a punch in the area of efficiency: Punditdad takes a list EVERY time but still finds himself backtracking like a lost drunk wandering home from the pub.  Albertsens and other take a hit in the family friendly factor too, though most have changing tables, I’ve found the buckles on the carts destroyed or frayed (like some baby Hulk went on a rampage) which causes Punditdad endless headaches. Safety is rule one daddies!

Babies ‘R Us: The granddaddy of all baby/kid retail experiences!  Thankfully, trips to BRU are rare for Punditdad. Why? Fear. Many patrons there are “extreme” pregnant — ready to go at any minute. I can’t bear to see them teetering around, I’m afraid I’ll be witness to a live birth in the diaper bag aisle! The rest of the patrons are new mommies/new daddies (realizing their bachelor days have been burned to a crisp)who had their baby yesterday and already are buying the expensive Bob strollers and BPA free bottles. Unfortunately, BRU has some items that might not be available except over the internet.  That said, BRU has excellent bathroom facilities! Big doors, great diaper changing tables. Also, since most other kids are screaming, it doesn’t matter that yours is too. Nothing is out of place. Finally, the efficiency is low — it’s nearly impossible to get in and out without a troublesome line or even worse, the dreaded return.  Punditdad tried to do a return just yesterday on an item mommy kept for 8 months expecting to get a full cash refund (it was a gift). No chance. Bring your crap back within 90 days with your receipt or you’re screwed. Overall, the BRU experience is like chocolate fondue, too much will make you go insane and watch out for that lady in the sippie cup section, she could go at any second.

Target: My god, is there a woman in America who doesn’t shop at Target? Back in ’92, Punditdad worked at the Olympia, WA midtown Target —  there were no stylishly designed clothes or expensive “student friendly” furniture.  Our number one seller was motor oil and Coke.  Swear. Place was dirty, loud, bright lights with harsh fluorescent coloring and in-bred coworkers from the forest (present company exempted).  A universe away from the happy, red paradise that draws women in like crack.  The actual retail Target experience is fine, friendly and efficient, with many checkouts, and clean family bathrooms.  If you’re a single guy, you definitely want to go to Target on your lunch hour and check out the scene — I suggest the greeting card aisle and toothbrushes (you want someone with clean teeth right?).  Unfortunately, Target rates high on the feminine scale, so to ensure the SAHD maintains his “dude” image, it’s important to check out sporting goods and electronic gizmos with every visit as well. Overall, Target rates the highest with this SAHD for overall shopping experience.

Costco: Home of the 54 pack of toilet paper and the 20 lb. roast! Who doesn’t love walking amongst the sample trays staffed by rejects from the Manson family central casting department.  Delicious cheeses and sausages await.  Hurmph! For SAHDs, Costco is a loud, cavernous, inefficient and daunting experience best conquered with mommy as a wingman rather than solo.  The bathroom is miles away from the shopping. Always scrounging for your card, your receipt and whatever “papers” they demand is a pain.  The Bean survives Costco in short, brief visits only. It’s just too crazy in there.  Thank god for the cheap ‘dawgs! You can’t beat a huge Hebrew National with all the onions piled high. None of that crap at Target.

Whole Foods: Ahh, the 7-11 of Orange County.  I used to think that Whole Foods was the exclusive domain of long-haired 60’s sociopathic candle freaks who practiced twice daily colonics and ate only locally grown organic figs.  This coming from someone who graduated from a serious hippy college. Nevertheless, that vision has been shattered after frequent visits to the local Whole Foods. While quality is high here and the Bean has a number of soy/organic yogurts to chose from, the prices and attitudes of the patrons is sky high. Never have I gotten a smile from another customer. These people take their organic foods far too seriously, not in a health way, but in a competitive way. The OC mentality (I’ll blog on this further in other installments) is more about being seen making purchases at the appropriate establishments, not because you actually believe in what they are selling. Thus, this cycle drives up costs for those like myself just trying to feed my daughter some food that doesn’t cause her to go into puberty at 7 or get diabetes at 13.  I have to hand it to Whole Foods though, they have great sample stations, friendly checkout people and few long lines.  Their bathrooms are usually too far away and set back in such a way that you can’t bring a cart in.  Whole Foods provides a negligible SAHD retail experience — not bad enough that I avoid it, but I’m constantly looking for other organic stores to fulfill the Beans’ needs.

IKEA: If you want to furnish your home for few dollars and have it look half way decent, I can’t think of anything better than IKEA.  Great products, a wide range of products and most aren’t THAT bad to put together.  Shout out to the 5 drawer Malm! That said, Ikea trips must be carefully planned. SAHD team members must be well fed, well rested and first and foremost, have a laser-like focus on the goal. Going to get a throw rug? Don’t dawdle in the poster section. Like that recliner? Move along. Ikea gets high marks for it’s good bathrooms, well constructed carts (omnidirectional) as well as multiple checkouts with plenty of employees.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that the Ikea floor plan is specifically designed to send you to all the departments you want to avoid.  OC Ikea is a maze that puts as much product between you and the checkout – especially if you have a cart and must use the elevators as opposed  to stairs or escalators.  That said, what Ikea has lacked in some areas, like Costco it makes up for in food. Can you beat the $.99 breakfast with another buck for a bottomless coffee. Playground equipment in the food court too. Hell no. Can’t touch this.  From one SAHD to another though, avoid Ikea at all costs on weekends when the hordes descend. Weekdays are fine, even during lunch. Parking is easy and all the other people there don’t have jobs either so everyone’s in good mood. Enjoy!

Do these descriptions seem accurate? I’m looking for more ideas on which stores are the most family friendly and SAHD friendly. Do you have a grocery store chain or local establishment that you think scores high on my criteria? Let me know and the Bean and I will put together a crack investigative team to check it out.

8 Responses

  1. “But a grown man with an adorable baby or toddler? That’s a sight that doesn’t fit the normal paradigm.”

    Which is exactly why you should shop in stores with tons of moms, man. It’s the ass! The grown man being a nurturing, loving father out in public — that shit’s gonna get you laid big-time, dude. Today you’re making a little friendly conversation as you pass each other on the baby-food aisle; tomorrow, you’re together for a play date, setting the little ones in front of the big-screen with a Teletubbies video, and slipping in the back to play hide the sausage!

    Oh, wait. You’re married. So am I. Rats.

    It’s nice to think about, though, isn’t it?

  2. A grown man with an adorable baby? Chick Magnet. Skip the store, go to the dog park.

    I’m totally stealing the Whole Foods line. Just sayin.

  3. Schnoz is clearly a sexist pig and I’m sure nobody Punditdad would associate with — unless it was during his formative/hormonal years. I’m sure that one day he’ll let his tongue get the best of him and a gang of angry NOW crowd demonstrators, led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg will pummel his wise-ass.

  4. A little bored huh? Yeah, it doesn’t really get better.

  5. OK – this might be my favorite pundit dad posting of all time – freaking HILARIOUS. Had me laughing out loud at my desk. I would totally agree with your assessments of the stores – I find the exact same things here on the east coast with the same stores. I would like to just add, however, that I admire your ability to spot quick moving and efficient lines. My husband actually sucks at that and I generally find this to be a common complaint among most wives that their husbands have poor strategic thinking in this critical category – whether shopping with child or not – time is of the essence. Perhaps you’ve honed this skill as a SAHD – or perhaps you’re just that good?

    KT out.

  6. Snore. Try taking your kid to Amsterdam pundit freak!

    Kitty time- how do you know that picking the slow line is not a strategic choice? With the slow line I am able to scout out the candy bar and soda selections with out any rush.

  7. A man holding a kid in his arms and shopping….wow that’s a rare scene. its rather more like a man holding kid and wife shopping.

  8. The inability to compose a grocery list and march thru the Albertsons in an orderly fashion without backtracking is definitely a genetic trait and I have no solution. You will always suffer this malady and age will only make it worse. So sorry.

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