My sister and her family lived in the town of Bath, Maine for awhile. And when I visited her the first time, I became a raving fanatic about the place.
Why? There are a billion (or, okay, a hundred anyway) cute downtowns to stroll in Maine. But this main street had at least four or five destinations that I could actually enjoy with an infant and a toddler in tow.
Why? Because they had given at least some consideration to children and moms. So here are some tips for running a parent friendly brick and mortar business.
Tips for Running a Parent Friendly Brick and Mortar
There are three simple things you can do to make your small business more welcoming to moms; even one would make a big difference!
A Toy Area
This is my top pick. I will choose a business with a play area first every time.
I am so much more likely to buy something if I actually have time to browse while my kids are having a good time.
Bonus points if the toy area is gated and you can see it from everywhere in the store.
In or near Bath at the time, there was a natural foods store, cafe, bookstore, kid’s resale boutique, and a tool/building institute that all had toy areas.
It was a dream come true! After all, parents are just regular people.
Short of a bar, I am having a hard time imagining a business that wouldn’t gain more customers by having a toy area!
A Public Bathroom
It’s hard to decide which is worse:
A. Being pregnant and unable to find a bathroom,
B. Having an infant with a dirty diaper and no place to change it, or
C. Having a potty training child who needs to use the bathroom NOW, like, RIGHT NOW, and being unable to find one.
Any of the above has the potential to cut a whole day’s worth of shopping short by forcing a family to come home early by not having a public bathroom.
Yet, this is the thing I find to be most likely lacking in a small shop. I’m sure it is not always the business owner’s fault, yet sometimes I get the distinct impression that it is.
I have gotten extremely annoyed responses upon requesting a bathroom. Does that seem just ridiculous to anyone else?
This business owner needs to learn tips for running a parent friendly brick and mortar location.
Bonus points for having a surface to change an infant on. I feel like even when I was a kid, diaper decks weren’t common. Did people never go out? It’s a mystery to me.
A Nursing Area
Now that I’m not nursing anymore a designated nursing area hardly seems essential.
But when I had a nursing baby, I also had a mental map of all the nursing friendly establishments in an area.
Toys ‘R Us had a nursing room; Motherhood welcomed nursing in its’ change rooms, and any change room would do on a slow day.
Better, though, was a small local business that had a comfortable rocker set up in a quiet corner. Nursing is an easy thing to accommodate!
Bonus points for having free samples of nursing pads, lanolin, etc; but really, a quiet corner is all you need (or, if you cater specifically to moms of babies, a couple of nursing chairs or nooks).
That’s my short and sweet list of ways a business can welcome moms/parents of small children. What would you add?