Tuesday, February 3, 2009

car vs stroller

When I first started in advertising my first client was GM of Canada working on Saturn, Saab and Isuzu. I worked with them for 5 years - all of them without a car. I was sort of the running joke the 'agency girl' that had to rent a car to come out to their offices in Oshawa. But it was my first job out of University, I had just moved to Toronto and a car was just not affordable (and honestly the receptionist was making more than me at the time). So I spent 5 years helping promote the benefits of cars, which I could drive, but not own. I had no problem getting my head around the relevant features and benefits. So when I bought my first car it was easy. (it was a Saturn 3-door Coupe).

When I bought my second car, after I moved out to Vancouver, I knew I wanted a Jetta (much easier to fit those 6 foot art directors in the back seat when going to client meetings). I just had to shop around to find the best offer/deal. Had a little bit of help from a male friend and it was done.

When I became a Mother last year I realized that buying a car had NOTHING on buying a stroller. To start with that McDonald's commercial is right and some strollers cost more than your car. Plus you really have NO IDEA before you have your baby what you will need. I was warned by friends that this was going to be a nightmare and I heard stories about three and four strollers. I was naive and thought they were crazy. I should be able to assess the really important feature vs benefits easier than that - I mean I worked in marketing for goodness sake. And I refused to spend $1000 or more on a stroller.

We had one lucky break in our stroller saga. My sister in law gave us her old stroller which worked with our baby car seat. It was a 'boat' but it worked well enough for a few months while we assessed our options. It was like a 3 month test drive of a vehicle we didn't want...

I followed the classic shopping process. Made a list of things both my husband I wanted and then hit the internet to research. Overwhelmed by that experience, but with a short list of strollers in hand, I hit the stores with baby safely seated in his 'boat'. I had one salesperson look at me like I was crazy and then say "you CAN'T be serious - you can't ALL have that". So back to the internet, better grasp of stroller measurements, then more shopping. More confusion... then REPEAT. Of course I was doing most of my research at 4am while pumping (yeah I know TMI). Finally I had a reasonable short list at reasonable prices and I got my husband back involved. More shopping.

Now we were down to a shortlist of 2. My husband's choice (Bob Revolution) and my choice (Bumbleride) both had 3 wheels, rubber tires, easy to fold, fits in my trunk, light weight, manoveured well, seat adjusted easily, not too wide, good sun cover, good online reviews, and reasonable price. Now I remember having long conversations with the folks at Saab Europe and Saab USA about cup holders. The Swedes just couldn't get their heads around the fact that Americans would make decisions on a car based on cup holders. Well my husband could NOT understand why I refused the Bob because of the size and accessibility of its basket. I walk and do a lot of shopping in our neighbourhood. And the basket MUST be accessible and large enough to carry home some groceries. I won (coincidentally the cup holder on the bumbleride is crap - fell off the first time we use it - but I don't really miss it).

But the saga wasn't yet over. We had to find the stroller at the best price. Only one store in Vancouver (Richmond actually) sold it - Pinky Blue. The prices if you bought online from the US were a lot cheaper. We wanted to support a local Canadian business. So we negotiated with the store. They were GREAT - it really reminded me that customer service is not dead. They matched the US price (with some adjustment for duty and exchange). Although they are not conveniently located, we try to make as many of our larger baby purchases with them (ie: stroller accessories). I know it is not the Saturn way, as I got a deal the next guy didn't get just because we had the 'balls' to ask. But the store has our loyalty and we love to tell everyone we know what a great customer service they have. If they would just start selling cloth diapers they would be my 'one-stop shop'.

So how is the stroller? We really like it. But it is actually really rather underused. We use the carrier (Ergo) more, and didn't even take a stroller at all when we went on a trip to Europe. But when we do go to the park or walk to the store it is very helpful, handy and the little guy is happy to sit in it. But mostly it lives in the trunk of my Jetta.


  1. Hilarious. We had twins and in those days strollers were not very compact. And we had the 'twin' version. Our car: Mazda GLC (forerunner to the Mazda 3). And crazy us, it was a two-door with a hatchback.

  2. Did you have to put the stroller up front and sit in the hatchback?