Sunday, August 19, 2012

20 Things Cloth Diaper Retailers Wish You Knew

1.       If a store is helping troubleshoot problems with your diapers, please give them all the information. If you’ve been adding a cup of bleach and a scoop of fabric softener, tell them so they can give you the best advice. They won’t judge. Many will go above and beyond to help you, including contacting the manufacturer for you.

2.       Even though most store owners still work at least part time from home, please give them some time to answer your emails or return voicemail, especially if it is during the weekend or at night. There may be times you get a response in five minutes and other times it may take a day. Remember, behind each store are real people with families, commitments, interests and so on.

3.       Trust them! They really do know what they are doing. Most store owners thoroughly research and try the products they carry. When they give you opinions, it is based on years of experience.

4.       If you are shopping in store, please do not open packages. Many times, there are sample products available for you to look at and/or try.

5.       Please don’t ridicule the products. It’s fine to ask questions about the products, but please don’t say things like “Who would buy this?” or “Who would spend this much on this?” There are other customers that love those products and it can be really uncomfortable for them to hear other customers mocking them.

6.       Ask first if it’s okay to take pictures in the store.

7.       Yes, certain manufacturer policies suck, but the manufacturers decide on these policies, not the store owners or sales people. If a store goes against a manufacturer’s policy, they could lose the right to sell that brand.

8.       Please supervise your kids! Many stores offer a play area for children. Do not take advantage of this by expecting the store owners and/or employees to watch your kids. If your child takes a product off a shelf and damages it, offer to pay for it or at least apologize.

9.       Local stores want your shopping experience to be wonderful, but they do have other customers to attend to as well. If you need help that will take longer than a few minutes, please ask if they have time to help you or contact the store beforehand to schedule some one-on-one consultation time. If you purchased the products from that store, they will be more than happy to help you.

10.   Treat them like you wish to be treated. Yes, if it wasn’t for the customers, the stores wouldn’t be here. But, that doesn’t give you the right to be rude or pushy. This is especially true when you are shopping online. Sometimes, we forget there is an actual person on the other end of that email.

11.   Retailers expect to make a living and not a killing. Cloth diapers have some of the worst price margins. Even if a diaper costs $30, a retailer may only be making 25-30% profit on it. After paying taxes, employees, shipping and overhead costs, there’s not much left. This is why they can’t offer sales, coupons and free shipping on a constant basis.  Most retailers do not start a store to get rich but they do need to support their families.

12.   They work hard, spend endless hours educating, ordering products, displaying, cleaning, pay taxes and payroll and take time away from their family. Please respect that.

13.   The internet is full of cloth diaper opinions and advice, some good and some terrible. Your local retailer can save you hours of time, frustration and even money in the long run. By asking the right questions, your retailer can help you choose cloth diapers you will love and, as a bonus, they are available to troubleshoot if needed. You will rarely get that level of service from the big box stores.

14.   Cloth diapers will be peed and pooped in on a daily basis and washed thousands of times in their lifetime. They are an investment and should be treated like that. So, shop locally and get advice from professionals.

15.   While retailers love helping families, please do not purchase your entire stash somewhere else and go to your local store for help. While a few questions are fine, they cannot spend an hour of their time helping with products that were not purchased at their store. Besides, if it is a diaper that retailer doesn’t carry; they may not know the answers to your questions. If you do purchase elsewhere and need help, consider attending a local Cloth Diaper 101 class.

16.   When you support local stores and websites you are saving local jobs and the local economy. Saving a buck on deal sites may seem great at the moment but hurts everyone in the long run. Support your local cloth diaper retailer and they will always be there for you.

17.   It hurts when you use their time and stock then leave empty handed and shop online. When you don’t shop at your local store, it will eventually close and there will no longer be a local place to ‘browse’.

18.   Every dollar you spend is a vote for what retailer/manufacturer you want to see succeed. Buying North American made products from local retailers really does make a difference.

19.   Before purchasing a product from a deal site, check with your local retailer. Once you add in the hidden costs, it may not be that great of a deal.

20.   Give feedback. If the retailer provided great service, let them know. If there was something you didn’t like, let them know. The only way they can grow is if you let them know what you like or don’t like. But, please contact the store before leaving negative comments on social media sites. A simple misunderstanding could ruin a store’s reputation.

*I'd like to thank all of the cloth diaper store owners that helped me write this post!

If you are a retailer, please comment on this post with a link to your website and/or social media pages. If you have a brick & mortar store, let us know where you're located!
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