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October 29, 2013

Retailers share their advice in dealing with unruly kids

Dear Abby: I managed a retail store for 10 years, and I can relate to the shop owner who signed herself “Had It With Overindulged Kids” (June 28). She could turn things around by creating a designated play area and market to the children by taking any opened items and placing them there for a children’s testing ground.

I had a “play table” with toys to keep them busy while their moms shopped. I put a gated area around it and a dads’ bench in front of it so they could watch the children.

They are your customers. So cater to them and be thankful the parents shop in your store. Learn the children’s names and suggest new age-appropriate products. If you don’t have the time, hire someone who loves children and has the patience to play with them in a controlled environment.

Joyce From Michigan

Dear Joyce: Thank you for the helpful advice. Customers and retailers alike shared their experiences. Many of them questioned whether the children always misbehaved this badly in public and blamed their behavior on today’s parenting skills — or lack thereof. Here’s a sampling:

Dear Abby: I shopped at a local store for years, but gave up when the place seemed overrun by unruly children and distracted parents. Out of desperation, I took a job there and vowed to find a way to make the parents rein in their youngsters.

One: I posted a sign that read, “IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU BOUGHT IT.” If they refused, I didn’t push the issue, but I did gesture upward. They would always look up, and when they did, I’d thank them for smiling at our cameras.

Two: Any child found unaccompanied would be escorted to our customer service area and the parents paged repeatedly until they showed up.

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