Courtney - posted on 03/03/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )
I just recently read this on a site....what are your thoughts? i cant believe a shop owner would do this...
I am still so mad that this is hard to write, so bear with me if I get a little ranty. Our family tries really hard to match our values and our spending dollars. Usually this happens quietly; no one might know why I choose one store over another, one brand over the next. Today I had the opportunity to really put my money where my heart was, but it was harder than I had ever expected.
In the small city that I live in there is one locally owned shop that caters to pregnant moms and children. They sell maternity wear, slings, kids’ clothes and shoes. The store is locally owned and has good quality (albeit pricey) stuff. I went in today to get both of my kids some new shoes and see what was on sale.
We shopped for over an hour and found what we needed, plus a little more. I went with the store owner to the till to pay, and noticed a little handwritten sign on the shelf above the till that read “Ask about free samples”. So I did. The owner told me that it was “just cans of Similac, though my little ones couldn’t tolerate it, and a tote bag for the hospital.” With a closer look I noticed that the sign was obscuring a box labeled “seventh month pregnancy pack” with the Ross-Abbott logo on it.
I asked the owner if she knew that handing out free formula samples undermines breastfeeding. She was immediately confrontational, and heatedly told me that she couldn’t breast feed “not a drop” and that it was a choice, and I shouldn’t shove breastfeeding down everyone’s throats. Excuse me?? I blinked and gulped as she continued to ring up my purchase. I jumped right in to the argument, because this formula feeding as choice thing really gets me riled up. IT’S NOT A CHOICE, IT’S A HEALTH DECISION. A choice that should be made with the help of a qualified medical professional, when the mother has been told the full risks of using artificial baby milk.
I told her how a formula fed baby in North America is FIVE time more likely to die in the first five years of life, than its breastfed counterpart. She countered with the “not everyone can breastfeed, I couldn’t”. I told her that I was very sorry that she didn’t have access to good breastfeeding help and a milk bank. And she again accused me of shoving breastfeeding down “everyone’s throat”.
I wanted to throw my purchases on the counter, demand my money back and walk out in a sanctimonious huff. I didn’t though, as I figured that I wouldn’t be able to calmly explain to my kids why Mommy wasn’t buying their nice new stuff. So I walked out of the store, and put my kids in the car. Then I told them what had happened, and how I thought that we should return the stuff and not shop there anymore. My six year-old was surprisingly understanding. He said “I don’t understand why a clothes store needs to give away bottle milk. Don’t they know it hurts babies?” I dropped the kids off, and returned to the store to return our stuff.
I was feeling calmer when I got there. I felt a sense of conviction. I had a plan. The store was thankfully quiet, I didn’t want another scene. The shop owner looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back and said “I was thinking about what you said, and you were right. It IS a choice, and I choose not to shop in your store. I’d like my money back please.” She began to go through my items, again talking about me not shoving breastfeeding down people’s throats. I told her that this had nothing to do with breastfeeding it had to do with her store’s choice to give out free samples and my choice not to support that. “There are a number of lovely shops in the city nearby that don’t undermine womens' health, and I will happily support them from now on.”
I refused to argue with her anymore, and she refused to give me my money back. The things I had bought were on sale, so she’d only give me a store credit. The receipt was ten minutes old! I was floored. My daughter had worn her shoes out of the store (to the car) so they were non-refundable. I backed down, and left, sad and feeling very defeated.
From the start I had only wanted to have an honest conversation with this woman. Instead I was attacked and humiliated because she couldn’t separate how she fed her kids from how she ran her business. So I came home and after the kids were in bed I wrote the store a letter about the WHO code. Then I wrote this.
by Lee-Ann Grenier