To the owners of Good Foods Co-op and Café,
Today I met a friend for lunch at the Good Foods Co-op Café. She brought her young daughter and I had my 3 year old and 1 year old children with me as well. We enjoyed our lunch, bemoaning about how difficult it was to try to do anything in public with our small children. When we got up to leave things turned hectic. My friend had to run with her daughter to the restroom to avoid a mishap, and I had to wrestle my little boy into the stroller while my daughter had escaped and was running out the side door to the café. My priority at that point was to get the kids into the stroller and out the door to prevent a further scene. As we headed out, my friend and I met back up to say good bye and go our separate ways. A lady approached us and in a very confrontational tone she told us that we had forgotten to bus our table, which was policy. My friend pointed out that we had our hands full and asked if she worked there. The lady stated that she did not but that she was an owner. She had no knowledge of our owner status. At this point a manager approached us asking if there was a problem and attempted to diffuse the situation. She apologized for the woman’s actions. Oddly, the woman quickly disappeared.
It is unfortunate that this incident occurred. Whenever I go in public with my children I am constantly reminded that our mere presence is a hindrance to others. Children are usually loud, sometimes hard to handle and most of the time require a lot of attention. Yes, we did leave the table as it was, and for that I did apologize to the manager. But I was faced with the choice of letting everyone around us be witness to a set of tantrums from both my children, one of whom had just run out the door and towards the parking lot. My choices were this: Do I let my three year old run into traffic while I take the time to clean the table? Do I leave my screaming one year old unattended while I take the garbage to the trash can some ways away? Should my friend have let her potty training daughter wet herself while she tended to cleaning the table? These were the choices we were faced with and we chose to gather up our children and head out the door.
It is a shame that we live in a society where young parents are unable to enjoy a lunch outing without feeling the scrutiny of others. Parenting is hard, harder than most jobs and most of the time thankless to many degrees. This woman who confronted us did so as an owner of the co-op. This makes me sad, not only for the reasons stated above but also because I believe in the co-op and have been a faithful patron for some time. My husband and I strive to teach our children sustainability and a connectedness with the world. Good Foods has been a business which we can respect and patronize often, but any business is comprised of its people and can only be as strong as is given with the quality of its people.
If this woman stands alone in shaming us for our decision to tend to our children’s needs rather than cleaning off a table then the other owners of the co-op need to be aware of her actions. I also feel it is important to point out that having a Master’s degree in Marketing has not only made me a much more conscientious consumer, but has taught me that the most powerful form of advertising is word of mouth. Plus, a negative experience with a business is talked about ten times more often then a positive experience. The owners need to keep each other accountable in regards to how customers are treated at this place of business.
Thank you for taking the time to address this concern. I may or may not return as a customer, but I will certainly be quite vocal regarding this incident.
Rebecca G. Westerman