Monday, April 24, 2006

But what does it Do?

I read about a family that paid $900 US (US!! about 1,035 CDN) for a stroller. I want to know: what does it do to be worth that kind of money? Does it have its own engine for that extra boost up those steep hills? Does it come complete with generator to run the bottle-warmer and baby-wipe heater? It's an American gadget, so it will have a drink holder, of course. Does it make cappucinos to put into the holder? I mean, really. Now, being in the business, I own three strollers, the largest of which cost $960 US ($1100 CDN) when I bought it four years ago. My stroller, however, seats four. I have used it for four years; I fully expect to be using it at least another four, probably something over twice as long a stroller is used by a one-child family. What, oh what, does a $900 single-baby stroller do to be worth that kind of money? What does it do that a $300 stroller doesn't do? Or a $150 stroller? Or a $50 stroller? Or, for that matter, the $18 umbrella strollers I keep for the occasions when I want to take a baby on the bus? Blows me away. Truly, it does.

22 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

It looks pretty? I honestly don't know- I'm content with whatever a family has- usually not an expensive stroller, but occassionally you'll find an expensive stroller where you least expect it. And think about it- your strollers going to end up costing about 125-150/ year if you use it for at least 8 years- plus you can divide that number in 4 because it fits more kids!!

4/24/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Thank you, I have been struggling with a topic for today and now I have one. I am going to talk about our stroller.
It cost less than $900.00 but not much and it is Australian. Phil and Ted, the thing is sweet.

4/24/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Andie D. said...

Isn't it obvious?

The $960 stroller gives an insecure parent the feeling that he is doing something "right" by his child since he bought only the finest gear.

It also gives that parent the opportunity to show others that you have the dough to spend nearly a grand on a freakin' stroller.

4/24/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous BeckaJo said...

I don't know. The expensive strollers - Bugaboo and MacClarens, and I think Perego? see http://www.daddytypes.com for a through discussion - look nice, supposedly hold up well, have air-filled tires, and some are made from aluminum and are very light.

HOWEVER. I think that it is ridiculous to spend that sort of money on a stroller. Split it nine ways and nine people get decent Gracos that can convert from infant seats to just strollers (which these fancy ones rarely do), and comes with a three-year gaurantee, by which time hopefully the child can maneuver on their own. Or buy the cheaper stroller and use the rest of the money to start a college fund. Buy a new wardrobe or an antique crib. Or donate it to some charity.

I live in a wealthy area, and every time I see one of those monster strollers I want to scream. It is the ultimate in consumerism to me - I see parents push their status symbols past homeless families on the street. There are mothers who can't afford to feed their babies or themselves, and there go people with a stroller that could pay the rent on two low-income apartments for a month. I had an argument with a friend once - her Bugaboo stroller with custom upholstery cost more that she pays her NANNY for a month's work! Absolutely ridiculous. Is the stroller going to be passed down like an heirloom from generation to generation? I highly doubht it, as the manufacturers come out with new 'models' like they're cars...

Although I will offer the story of how a building collapsed atop a stroller (a Bugaboo, I think); the frame did not collapse, and the child survived unscathed after being trapped for six hours. So there's always that factor.

4/24/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

yeah, most people in our neighbourhood are pushing Bugaboos these days, and the base model is over a grand CDN. What they hell for? I wanted one of the Peg ones where the top seat part can turn around to fac mom or away, which those ones do too, and it did the full recline for when she was new, as the Bugaboos do too, and it had big snow-friendly tires, which the Bugaboos don't - but I bought mine used for $120 and will pass it on to friends next month. I totally don't get why a Bugaboo is worth more than twice what a high-end Peg pram is worth, and those used to be among the most pricey strollers! Craziness.

4/24/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Haley said...

Didn't you hear? It not only provides you wil iced lattes, but it straps in and walks the baby for you so that you can enjoy said latte on your deck while talking to neighbours and enjoying adult company. Not only that, but it gets up in the night to bounce and pace around with your cholicy child so that you can sleep soundly through the night to be fresh and awake for another afternoon of iced lattes and deck conversation!

Now if that isn't worth $1,035, I don't know what is.

4/24/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger L. said...

I just don`t know.
We were umbrella stroller people.

4/24/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger stefanierj said...

I thought the Fuggaboos were stupid until my friend explained that her stroller was basically a carseat and bassinett all rolled into one. But then, she lived in Europe and needed big wheels for the cobblestones and, since she took her stroller (and not her car as most of us North Americanos do) EVERYWHERE, felt it was worth the extra money for the different seating positions, etc. I know here in North America they seem silly, and maybe they are, but for her--totally worth it.

Myself, I just bought a $100 Maclaren umbrella stroller, and that's saying something, because I am a CHEAP bitch. We are moving to the city where we will be walking to do most of our errands every day, so I felt we needed one that could take the abuse. Also, it is soooo light (and it has a strap so I can sling it over my shoulder), its seat is mesh (so it dries very fast and is comfy in the heat), it has a moveable hood (so it actually blocks the sun from my kid's eyes, unlike the $20 umbie I had), its wheels are angled so I'm not constantly kicking them (again, unlike the $20 umbie), I can fold and steer it with one hand (which makes up for the fact that it, in fact, does NOT have a cupholder, LOL), and its handles do not make me stoop over and feel like a teenager pushing a doll carriage. Plus my kid can sit in it until he's 55 lbs, so like a first grader, LOL.

Is $100 excessive? Yup. But I'll be using it excessively, and it's worth it. If I needed it for the occasional trip, I'd get a $20 one. But I don't, and I don't know why people who get well-designed stuff are always assumed to be either insecure about their parenting, snotty or super-rich. I'm none of those (well, a little insecure, but the maclaren hasn't helped, I promise you!), but I *am* lazy. I like the Mac because it's easy to use. I like my Britax carseat for the same reason. So sue me!!

Sorry for the long comment, Mary! I just get a little torqued when people assume that folks like my friend are assholes because they have a pricey stroller. I may be an asshole, but there's lots more reasons than my silly stroller choices!

4/25/2006 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

My mother bought us a £300 ($500Us approx) pram when I was pregnant with Mstr A. I think she wanted to feel she was havging an input:-)

It is sturdy & pretty comfortable to push. it's much warmer than the little umbrella one I use most often. It can be a flat bed/carrycot, pushchair, or car seat, and after three kids, I'd say it was worth the money as it's still going very strong! However, when we packed it away after only 18 months it seemed a bit expensive for a single child!

With the really expensive ones, you are mostly paying for the name - although they are well made & would last many years if anyone used them that long (my mother kept the same silver cross pram for all 60 of her kids - over approx 15 years).

Some have got scary features - i'll never forget the one we were shown that had a bubble cover that "filtered & cleaned all pollen, dust and pathogens from the air" so that when you take the poor child out of it at age two it will immediately drop dead from catching a cold!

4/25/2006 03:07:00 AM  
Blogger aaron said...

Thanks for the rant -- Kathy started looking at strollers the other day and was appalled by the one that cost $300. I'm not surprised to hear that there are ones way more than that -- it's just another sign that some people have way too much money (as though I needed another one).

4/25/2006 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Angela: They usually cite features like weight, rear axles that work independently, etc. But still, I can't see that it's worth three and four times the cost of another perfectly good stroller - and I work with strollers more than yer average parent.

Peter: Ah, Peter. Ever the contrarian.

Andie: When I asked the question, I was thinking features, but these are answers I've heard, too, and I'm sure they're true for some!

Beckajo: The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is certainly well-symbolized by a thousand-dollar stroller for a little person who just doesn't care! But now we know: if your baby is ever going to be in a collapsed building, it pays to pay...

Kittenpie: Which was my point, exactly. Yes, there are thousand-dollar strollers on the market, but why? Why, when there are much, much, much less expensive ones that do the job just as well. To me, it seems to be spending money just because you can.

Haley: A-HA!! I KNEW there had to be something I was missing!! Thank you! (It would have to be in the order of this to make it worth the money. Sheesh.)

L: Aren't those things practical? When my kids were younger, I used them a lot. I don't so much now, because I generally have more than one needing a stroller, but I loved mine.

Stefanierj: Inevitably, when you have one of these discussions, someone is going to feel picked on. I regret this. (No, you're not an asshole, silly girl.) :-) Still, I confess your arguments aren't convincing to me.

If the ultra-expensive strollers were the only ones that offered those features, I'd be more convinced. You can, of course, get any and all of them on much less expensive and equally well-designed strollers.

I think Canadians walk more than Americans, and this Canadian probably walks more than most of her fellow citizens. One of my families gave me a gizmo that measures mileage, and last summer (mid-May through August) I put over 300 kilometers on my large stroller.

Having said all that, I don't think a $100 umbrella stroller is excessive, particularly if it's your sole, or primary, stroller. In fact, if it is your sole stroller, it seems positively modest. I concede that the $18 strollers don't last: with steady use, those things give me one, maybe two summers. If you want yours to last for your child's stroller life - 2 to 3 years - the extra money is sensible.

MrsA: "Mostly paying for the name" is my belief, too. I have no doubt that the toptoptop end strollers are very nice. However, almost all the features on the ultra-expensive ones are available on mid-range ones; the features that are not also available are just not (to me) worth the extra hundreds of dollars. And all this for an item, as you sensibly point out, that is only going to be used for a very few years. (Unlike your mother's. Now THAT'S a well-used investment!)

Aaron: It's pretty startling, some days, what people will spend... I have a book suggestion for you: Slacker Mom. I forget the author. It's a small volume, and really, it's just the first two or three chapters that I found most entertaining, but it's apropros for you in your stage of acquiring baby stuff. I think you'd like it.

4/25/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

actually, come to think of it, I did pay more for my umbrella stroller. Since 8 months old, it's become our primary stroller and I have only used the big one for really snowy days. I paid more because I wanted one with a seat that had some recline for when she fell asleep, since we use it a lot. We live in the city like you, so we walk a lot too, and I don't drive, so the light weight was key for me in case I wanted to take it on the subway. Hmmm. I guess I would say I think it was worth it, but I'm glad I didn't pay much for the big one we used at first, since it wasn't used much once she was sturdy enough for the smaller stroller.

4/25/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Anne V said...

If someone designed a stroller that rolled like a jogger and took up as much space as an umbrella stroller I might have considered spending a fair amount for it. $1000? Don't know. But the Buggaboos are pretty big so they don't solve my problem even with their impressive price tag.

Rather than continue the search for the perfect stroller I'm redirecting my efforts to getting my two year old to walk as much as possible and thereby decrease his excess energy. And eliminate the need for a stroller.

4/25/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous beckajo said...

I re-read my post and I do want to offer a retraction...I can totally see spending $100 on a decent stroller that will hold up to heavy use. After all, a lot of people spend that on a decent pair of shoes that will last. I'm sorry if I came off as thinking everyone with a designer stroller is a snob - that has been my experience, but it's a stereotype.

$100 for a stroller - any stroller, designer or not - is understandable. $900 plus is not, especially for those that function only as strollers and not as car seats or grocery trolleys.

4/25/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Kittenpie: It comes down to a cost-benefit balance. You can get a solid, serviceable, well-designed stroller that will take you where you want to go and keep baby safe and warm for $200 - $300 dollars. (Stroller as opposed to umbrella strollers and variation, which cost less, of course.) You can also, if you choose and have the funds, get a stroller for $1000. But, really, in honesty, is the ultra stroller really worth an extra seven or eight hundred dollars? I just can't see it. Hence the question: What does it do to be worth the expense?

Anne V: Hello, and welcome! You've managed to come up with some specifications that would be worth good money for you. I'm with you on the toddler walking: unless I'm going more than a couple of kilometers (a mile and a quarter), they walk. If I'm going further, they take turns in the stroller. On a steep hill? Them what can, walks!

Beckajo: No need for a retraction re: the $100 stroller, since you pointed out that a single ultra-expensive stroller could purchase nine $100 ones. I didn't read you saying that people who bought those things were snobs, either, but only that the stark contrast between hugely expensive items and hungry children is hard to take. Well, it is.

It isn't the fault of those of us who can feed our families that there are those who can't - but that doesn't make it right that there are hungry children out there. It points to something askew in society, as you rightly pointed out. Those of us who have nice homes and comfortable "stuff" need to be a little less comfortable, bytimes.

4/25/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mother On an Island said...

I stumbled onto your blog the other day Mary P. and I'm glad I did. I really enjoy your postings. This expensive stroller businesss has really caught me off-guard. I have $300 jog stroller that my very kind mother- and father-in-law bought for us. I thought that it must be the highest priced stroller in the universe. Until reading this post, I had no idea that anybody, anywhere could BUY a stroller for $900 cuz who knew they even made them??? I am aghast, but curious. I wonder if this is what Madonna uses? Or maybe Gwenyth??? Maybe the stroller allows the parent to ride *along with* the child, and steer via a hand control?

4/25/2006 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

My mothers pram was a good investment - especially as she got it free:-)

She bought a much cheapr silver cross pram (this was way back in the 60's mind) and it just fell apart after a few weeks. While she was pushing my new born brother in it. Silver Cross were absolutely mortified & offered her any pram in their whole range as a replacement. she took one of the more expensive ones (although not the most expnsive).

It could hold a fair weight too - i distinctly remember a trip to the zoo where two babies 7 two toddlers rode in the pram, which also carried a big box full of packed lunches, drinks, coats, bags etc for the 7/8 of us at the time:-)

4/25/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

MoaI: Hello! Welcome!! Glad you're enjoying the site. I always thought $300 was a goodly chunk of money, too, and I still maintain you can get a perfectly good stroller for that price (less, even). According to the link Beckajo provided up there, the Crown Prince of Norway is currently riding around in just such an ultra-stroller, across the sands at Monaco, no less...

MrsA: Good lord. Strong, indeed. Plus, the thing must be ENORMOUS!

4/25/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

Good Lord--the cost to replace the timing belt on my car is going to be $900. And I drive my car every day!

That said, I would totally spend $100 or more on a quality umbrella stroller if I am going to beat the crap out of it. I inherited a Peg Perego "system" and I beat the crap out of it. I gave it up when I started flying a lot with my daughter and it was really hard to break down. I went out and bought a $20 stroller--it's nice nearly as nice and isn't as sturdy.

4/25/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Hausfrau: Exactly. You gauge your stroller against the abuse it will have to take. If all you do with yours is put it into the trunk and troll the kid through the mall on it, a cheapo umbrella stroller is perfectly adequate. If you're going to "beat the crap out of it" (like those cobblestones cited above, LOL), you're going to need much sturdier, and with larger wheels. (Which, I still maintain, you can get for $300!)

4/26/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

For $900.00, the stroller would need to push itself, change the baby's diaper, and get me a latte.

Come to think of it, I WOULD buy one if it did all that . . .

4/26/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Homestead said...

I have three strollers that I love. A nice, regular stroller (Graco maybe?) that reclines & has storage & cup holders & a sunshade that I picked up on clearance for $40. A fancy Trek jogger/bike trailer that I got for free that I love for hiking but it is too cumbersome for anything else. And a $9.95 umbrella stroller that just sort of hangs out in the trunk of my car and goes on airplane trips with us. Three strollers for less than $50. I take "cheap" to new levels.... but I think it is all about lifestyles... we don't go to enough places that are stroller-friendly to justify something pricey.... when SB was little I used the sling more than anything.

For us, the stroller is usually just for hauling our junk... the kid walks and we pile the coats, packages, snacks, water bottles & various other items in the stroller.

I'm pretty sure I didn't spend $900 on all of the baby stuff I bought put together.....

4/26/2006 01:42:00 PM  

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