October 25, 2005

She Asked For It

From the comments on Geraldo's alleged Bugaboogering:

Sound off on BIG strollers (LA's South Bay)
Tell me what you think of the pricey ($700), supersize of strollers these days.

With names like Bugaboos and Stokke Xplorys - some are calling them Hummers. Others say they're necessary for today's busy toddler. Urban nuisance? Bulldozer? Or baby basic?

Daily Breeze features writer seeking candid input on story about the supersize stroller trend. E-mail me at cerise.valenzuela@dailybreeze.com or call me at 310-540-5511 Ext. 390.

Please be nice. There are children listening.

30 Comments

Bugaboos just aren't that big. I'm sorry, but they are not. I've never driven one personally, but I've seen them around, and they look to be smaller than the Graco travel systems that litter the planet. They certainly have a smaller turning radius than our Joggeroo. Plus, cooler looking. IMO, this is nothing more than people being offended by the price (or the mere presence of babies in their vicinity) and looking for a more palatable hook on which to hang their disgust. It's not like a Hummer, which is stupid and ugly and a gas hog and expensive.

Being the owner of a bugaboo and neither rich nor a New York dweller I have to say that those who lump it in with the gigantic strollers must not have actually seen one. Although it is a bit longer than your average stroller when the bassinet is being used, it's width is equal to that of a single walker on the sidewalk. Having seen parents pushing loaded down Jeep and Peg Peregos at the mall with what seemed like their entire life in the stroller, I purposely chose the bugaboo for its size. I have many friends with all kinds of stroller brands and it is smaller than all of them ... I know it's just a stroller, but dammit it looks great and pushes like a charm so I wish people would lay off it for a while. Isn't there something else to be snide about for a bit?

I agree that Bugaboos and Stokkes (and Mountain Buggies, Phil & Teds and the BOBs for that matter) are not much bigger (perhaps smaller) than the Graco monsters that transverse malls and zoos across the country. Size is not the issue. Conspicuous consumption is the issue. That's why the expensive strollers are equated to the Hummer - they are offensive to some people because of self-conscious way they are meant to stand out as a badge of class status, if not of design literacy.

Size is too easy a critique.

Bugaboos are not big. Period. As for conspicuous consumption--that's another annoying tag. We bought ours because we don't own a car and this stroller is my car basically. So which is worse $800 for a new stroller or couple of thousands depending on what car we would have bought, plus another $200-300 for a cheaper stroller?

As a very happy Bugaboo driver, I would like to say that I don't drive an SUV, I live in an inner city condo, not a house like everyone else in my incredibly sprawling metropolis, and my wedding band contains no diamond. Instead, I chose to spend my money on a comfortable, versatile and easy-to-maneuver stroller for my child. The people that seem to have a problem with the cost all seem to live in bigger houses than me (high gas bills), drive bigger cars than me (high gas bills), and own multiple crappy strollers. Maybe they should have put as much due diligence into stroller research as they did into that SUV purchase. Maybe they're just jealous.

As someone who will admit to twinges of Bugaboo annoyance, I can tell you exactly what it is that bothers me: when they started appearing in my neighborhood, it was the first real sign that the area was gentrifying past a point I, and many other long-term residents, felt comfortable with. It may not be fair to feel this way, but the people pushing Bugaboo or Xplorys have $500 or so more disposable income than me or most of my neighbors, and are generally relative newcomers paying prices for apartments that have made all of our eyes pop out of our heads. It's not a nice feeling to think that soon you'll be priced out of your beloved neighborhood, and since this is Manhattan and most people don't drive cars, the stroller index has become a convenient way to measure not just relative prosperity, but comfort in the display of wealth. (It takes the place of what my parents use in the suburbs: the LCI, or luxury car index.)

So there you have it. For me and many other long-timers here, it has nothing to do with the strollers' size and everything to do with their status as a consumption symbol. If you see people glaring at your Bugaboo, that person may be thinking, "Because of you, I cannot afford a larger home and will eventually have to leave a place I love." Illogical but true.

[true, it's illogical but true. Not sure how this plays out in Southern California, though. -ed.]

Hillary here again ... I just can't understand the whole consumption issue. It seems really small-minded and judgmental to me that one would look at a stroller and say 'thank you strange person I know nothing about for making me move to a new neighbourhood'. Like Andrea, my husband and I do not own a car, we rent our one bedroom apartment, and our daughter has slept in the bugaboo bassinet for the first four months of her life so that we didn't have to purchase a crib for the first little while. So it really irks me to feel like I constantly need to defend what we fairly easily determined to be a good investment rather than a symbol of our mountains of cash burning a hole in our pockets.

I'm just a working class fella from Minneapolis, but my wife and I are thinking about getting a bugaboo because it could possibly be less expensive. These cheap plastic behemoths with Graco and Winnie the Pooh all over them seem to break all the time. If we get a Bugaboo or a Quinny, I wouldn't be surprised if it lasted until the next kid. The other brands, I'm not so sure about. I think it also wouldn't be too hard to bring it on the city bus with us, and may even be sturdy enough for the occasional jogging on paved trails. If one stroller does the work of three, and can make it to the next kid, never mind to the time the kid has her first birthday, I'd say that's a pretty damn good investment.

Would all you myopic, judgemental inbreds who think we bought our Cameleon to only appease our need to wave our dripping riches in your face, please raise your hands.

Thanks. I want to make sure I have a clear shot at you so I can jam our "oversized" Bugaboo into your ankle as we pass at the farmers market. Oh yes, Jr. will have some projectile vomit on the ready for you as well.

Didn't you read the program a while back? Life isn't fair.

Please move on, and try to find something a little deeper than "$800 baby strollers" to spew your bitter venom over.

[Did you know the Bugaboo's sweet performance fleece repels bitter venom with a damp cloth? Get a Cameleon at babystyle for---oh, bad time? sorry. -ed.]

These sorts of complaints are so stupid. There is one serious difference between an expensive stroller and a HUGE car (or house for that matter).

The stroller isnt hurting anyone, whereas the HUGE car and house are causing tons of uncessesary pollution, and in the case of the Hummer and other large SUVs, endangering others lives on the road.

I would be so happy if everyone traded in their 5-10mpg SUV and 3000+ sq ft house for an expensive stroller.

Here we go again. I think it's funny that we're equating SUV ownership with stroller ownership as if they had anything to do with one another.

We use a stroller that was a hand me down from someone in the office. I'm not even sure what the brand is. All I know is that it gets the kid from point A to point B. I think the biggest difference is that the community we live in has nothing within walking distance, so the stroller only gets used a couple of times a week. If we lived somewhere where we needed more reliable baby transporation, we might look at getting something better.

That said, the neighborhood I live in is the kind of place where our stroller will get passed around to several families before it finally dies. This means that somebody suddenly showing up with an $800 stroller would be (to us) a sign of "wave their dripping riches in our face" - but that may just be our "inbred" way of thinking.

Hey! Who corrected my intentional misspellings?

[I did, since I was correcting David's presumably unintentional ones at the moment you were mimicking them. And I was kind of hoping everyone would call this reporter with their SUV-, McMansion, and gentrification-themed stroller rants instead of dumping them here. This sort of over-emotional consumerism-based parenting/lifestyle critique is really hot with the media right now. -ed.]

Greg - you should know we can't resist arguing about things like this. Now, if I could just get a baby cage attachment for a Bugaboo...

As a former Graco owner, I only wish I had heard of the Bugaboo before I had my daughter. The Graco ended up on ebay and I've spent the equivalent of the cost of a Bugaboo on three seperate strollers before finding one I only half like.

To me the Bugaboo is a smart investment if you walk or take public transit everywhere and need a stroller that isn't too big or heavy but is sturdy. The Graco certainly didn't fit the bill...after 8 months of daily use, it was falling apart and was much larger and heavier than a Bugaboo. Plus, with only a three point harness, the Graco's three point harness wasn't nearly as safe as a five point harness, something usually found in more expensive strollers.

It's not about status, it's about buying what's right for your situation. If you're going to be spending most of your time driving around in your minivan and strolling though suburban malls, don't spend so much on a stroller, you don't need to. If you spend most of your time walking in the city, consider something lighter, sturdier and easier to push. Those features usually make a stroller more expenisve. I guess the moral of the story is, buy within your means but buy at the top end of what you can afford for the lifestyle you lead. You'll be much happier with your purchase in the end.

As a middle-class midwester suburbanite (the worst kind), I can tell you why I don't have a Bugaboo. It is a 700 stroller. My graco travel system (Mocha, thank you very much) was a gift, but it would cost me under $200 if I'd bought it myself. It includes an infant seat, a carseat base, and a stroller which will convert to hold a toddler. (included, not accessories). Let's be clear here, if you can afford a $700 stroller in the midst of all other baby expenses, you have cash to spare!

Maybe your baby did sleep in the basinnet to avoid the crib costs but you could have taken that extra $500 and purchased a crib that would become a toddler bed, and ultimately a full sized bed. Maybe you do want your stroller to last until your second child, but if you're worried about breakdowns, buy yourself another 2.5 gracos and put them in storage with the extra money.

Now don't get me wrong, had I my druthers, I'd be out there (in my Daddy Type t-shirt) pushing around a Phil & Ted with my beautiful daughter in an r2d2 onesie under her Muji raincoat, but it just isn't an option.

I bear no ill will towards owners of any stroller cooler than mine. I greet them with abundant enthusiasm and envy as they walk by on rare occasion. I even whisper to my wife how much cooler their stroller is as she rolls her eyes.

What does bother me is people with the $700 on hand to buy a stroller trying to justify why it really wasn't a luxury purchase. Don't feel bad for buying a luxury item. Buy it, enjoy it, and when confronted with snears from the graco masses, convert your stroller into off-road mode, and enjoy the park while they bounce across the street.

The conspicuous consuption tag might be unfair, but it sticks. Here's a thought:

If you buy a new Mercedes or an other luxury car because you love the engine design, admire the mechanics, and find the car suits your driving purposes and pleasures perfectly, that's great. But many people will see your car as a statement of how much extra money you have to waste.

In another way, the Bugaboo or other expensive stroller might be *perfect* for you, but marketers are smarter and know how to build brand identity through snob appeal.

We met with a potential nanny share couple last weekend. (They live a few streets over and walked over to our house with their 4 month old girl.) They noticed our Quinny parked in the living room (did I mention how much we love the Quinny?) and my husband said, "At least it's not one of those "Gwinny Paltrow $900 jobs!" What my husband couldn't see was their Frog parked on our front porch. Or me making the slashing motions across my throat as he was talking.

[those Quinny people are so full of themselves... d'oh! -ed.]

Thanks for picking up my typos, Greg. I was doing the hunt and peck while doing the midnight feeding. (I can't spell anyway, but that does sound like a legit excuse, eh?)

Andrew and Pancho, thank you so much for saying what really needs to be said to put an end to this nauseatingly tiresome debate. I never was annoyed by the owners of bugaboos and their ilk until I realized how freakin' defensive they were about their strollers. sheeesh. if they really just care about the design and the function, why doth they protest so much when one utters the words "conspicuous consumption"? If Thorstein Veblen were alive today, he'd put the creepy bugaboo/ring 2 corporate symbol on the cover of his book. Deal with it and enjoy your beautiful strollers.

Ryan:

I'm nos so sure the Bugaboo would be good for jogging even on pavement. Those little front wheels might be challenged. However, you can remove the front wheels and have a bab rickshaw going. We've done that at the beach.

[Yeah, I was just explaining to someone how Bugs are like jogging strollers for people who don't actually jog, the way a Lexus 470 is an SUV for people who never go offroad. That said, you're like the third person I've ever heard of actually driving the Bugaboo at the beach (Max, the Frog's designer is 1st, and I'm the 2nd). -ed.]

Wow I'm probably going to hell. I have a Bugaboo and don't even have a baby. I just use it for carting around my bags (hand, shopping, etc etc etc) it's great to have, I use it instead of one of those stupid rolling baskety grocery cart thingys. And I bring it everywhere!
I think it's a brilliant invention! Oh man, hopefully I'll start a trend...or just look like a crazy girl with a gorgeous pram!

[now I've heard everything. Are you serious?? Not even a little dog in there?]

i emailed this lady. i live right here in the south bay of LA (redondo beach) and i have a bugaboo cameleon, maxi cosi cabrio, fuzzi bunz diapers, clothes from petit bateau and jacadi, crib from pottery barn kids...and of course i just bought a brand new 2006 toyota sequoia limited 4wd that gets 15/17 MPG. and of course the kid's college fund will be starting in a few months.

and oh yeah...the kid will be born in jan 2006. heh. he's not even here yet.

i'm not rich but we still save a lot of our paychecks each month but regardless, why do people care so much about how someone else decides to spend his money? this is the USA.

RVD.

In my head, an $800 stroller is only costing me 200 bucks a year until the child is 4. When I put it on ebay after the first (or possible second) child uses it, or decide to donate it, I will be seeing a larger percentage of that money back than if I tried to sell a big plasticy behemoth like a graco, "jeep" or "eddie bauer" branded stroller.

This being the case, why aren't more people buying them? I'd rather not buy a cheap piece of hunking plastic that i have to cart up and down four flights to our apartment. I'm in NYC. This is an area that would almost dictate the use of SUV's based on road condition alone (don't complain about them in the city if you don't drive). That being said: 1) I don't drive an SUV, and as a driver, I hate them. 2) The ONLY comparison I would make to an SUV would be the wheel and suspension combination. Has anyone here ever been to a park in an urban environment? Not exactly smooth sailing.

Also, we're not using this to take baby to the mall. We do have to trudge through snow, we do go to the beach and parks and woodsy areas on weekends, and we do still need something that folds up easily, nice and light for our little econocar.

and of course, my rant has nothing to do with Los Angeles... ha!

if you're just mall walking, hopping in and out of your Escalade in your big white sunglasses with Paris and Jessica, then MAN, it's got to be about showing off your cash flow...

yeah i spoke to her since i live just down the street from the newspaper. who knows...maybe some of the info i gave her will be in her article.

i don't know why other people should care so much on how i decide to spend my money that i worked for. part of the beauty of living in this great country is the freedom and right to buy whatever i want to.

i suppose for SUVs and things like that the general public does have a right to whine because i suppose i may be using up more than my rightful share of our natural resources and guys like me cause gas prices to go up for everyone else.

but let's get real...a bugaboo?

RVD.

[You gotta fight. For your right. To roll in a Bugaboo -ed.]

hey, i'm gonna be in the article. met the lady today. she interviewed me, took a bunch of pictures of the bugaboo and took a pic of me pushing it.

hopefully the article isn't going to be a bad one.

RVD.

here's the article:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/today/articles/1835516.html

wow. what harsh words. how dare anyone make assumptions about anyone else. we bought our frog on ebay (for an amazing under $700!) when i made it to 17 weeks of pregnancy. it was a spur of the moment celebration- we lost the first baby at 4 months. i saw one on the street, my husband saw it in a design magazine. it was something we didn't fight over, and after a cursory look at other stroller prices and functions, we figured it would only cost a little more in the long run- and we could afford it. and it wasn't all plastic (which we try to avoid as biodiesel freaks). we got nearly all of our other baby gear/ clothes/ toys hand me down or bought used.

now our daughter is one. despite the awesome drive and her comfort, i'm not so sure there is any best stroller out there. our sexy frog has no cup holder, no snack tray, inadequate sun shade, and it usually takes two hands, a foot, and a few swear words to fold it. and the dream of flying it to some beach for a vacation- forget it. i'm not paying that much for a transport bag! and frankly, i feel self-conscious about often- like people assume i'm rich, and therefore a horrible, boring person. my fears are confirmed. thanks a lot.

so can we just kiss, make up, and worry about something really important like education or world peace--- please?

Quote:
"For me and many other long-timers here, it has nothing to do with the strollers' size and everything to do with their status as a consumption symbol." - Sarah 10/26

I will agree with Sarah's post, there is an automatic association with the Bugaboo and status. There are always going to be people who buy things for the wrong reasons. A counterpoint to this is that there are indivduals who buy the Bugaboo because they have done the research and believe that it's features and spec's match their family's needs.

My wife and I are discerning consumers, we buy things because we've read the reviews and scoured the internet for good deals. We've just received shipment of our Bugaboo Frog yesterday and are thouroughly impressed with it, not because of the heads it will turn but because it's ease of use + functionality. We chose the Bugaboo Frog because it's going out of production soon and is the cheaper (I know, hehe) choice when compared against the Chameleon. I am especially excited about the Bugaboo because of it's weight, when my wife is out with our child, I don't like picturing her struggling to get the stroller in & out of the car.

I do not agree with the posts that justify expenditures based on 'consumer freedoms'. I don't think that just because you can afford something that you should necessarily buy it. Every consumer product carries a possible social/environmental cost besides its monetary cost. In the case of SUV's, there is an environmental impact to consider along with the pricetag. Moreover, if the community that we lived in highly frowned upon the use of Bugaboos, then my wife and I would reconsider our purchase.

I need a transport bag for my bugaboo cameleon. I am wondering if the transport bag is one size fits all or if there is a specific size for each stroller? I can't tell from the online shops. THanks for your help if anyone knows.

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