KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Aug 17 2010

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Who’s minding the showroom?

This week, I watched parents bring their children into our showroom. A few kept their children close, but others completely ignored their kids, who felt free to crawl up on the counters, open and slam doors, and generally race around.

This isn’t unusual and is, in fact, part of the generation divide. This generation with young families views it as freedom of choice for their children—letting kids be kids. For the older generation, it’s viewed as a disappointing lack of responsible parenting.

Of course, there are exceptions to all generalizations. On the whole, we have pretty good families that come through our doors, but the divide can sometimes be pretty noticeable to those of us in showrooms.

I have to admit, I have a dilemma. Unlike the big stores, most small business showrooms are paid for through sweat equity and hard-earned dollars. There’s no big conglomerate that will simply replace damaged items—anything banged up usually comes out of an owner’s pockets. Now, this isn’t my showroom although I did spend a fair amount of design time on it, but having been part of a family business, I know how much we sacrificed to make our business work.

Now, I don’t mind if a child is rooting around the showroom—within reason. But businesses have added liability concerns if someone is hurt in our showroom. I get nervous when a 36-in. child is crawling on top of the 42-in. display.

So what does one do?

I think it’s perfectly fine to keep an eye on the children and to either let the child know to be careful, or ask the parents to do so. Unlike the days of my childhood, when we were taught to listen to all adults, some parents tend to get upset, but it’s very rare.

I asked one child to please get down from the counter as it was dangerous, and he did so, and the parents nodded their thanks and kept him close for the remainder of their visit. Hey, I know that parents don’t always have eyes in the backs of their heads (I had to find out eventually, mom!) Keeping it nice and polite keeps everyone happy. If it doesn’t, you can’t win them all. But I think it’s better to say something than to have an accident on your hands.

What do you think? Is this the way it is now and we should just accept it? Or do you have rules for your own showrooms?

Until next time,


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  Eric |

    For our San Jose Factory showroom (www.fireclaytile.com) signage is important. Also, find activities maybe the kids can do to distract themselves. We have an area where sometimes kids will go to make ceramic art. But the key thing is to have a sign, don’t be afraid to speak up, and to try to make it as kid friendly as possible.