An Open Letter to Lululemon Athletica
Special thanks to all of the support for sharing this. You can read the comments from moms all over here.
I contemplated and went back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to share this publicly. But as my professional life is spent advocating for moms and their families, and many urged me to do so, there was simply no way I could not share this event, which took place in your Bucktown location in Chicago on the Saturday before Father’s Day.
I understand that this location does not have a public restroom. I know this. However, I frequent this location (and many of your other locations), I am a GOOD customer (just take a look in my closet.) On this particular day I was standing with my two kids (ages 5 and 2) holding three pairs of shorts for their Dad for his Father’s Day present. My youngest daughter, who is currently being potty trained, proclaimed, “I have to make Mommy.”
After pleading with the girl in the back, she refused to let me use the bathroom. The bathroom I know is there because I have used it before. This was an emergency for my two year old and I didn’t want her to have an accident. She did the right thing by telling me she had to go. An accident would have been mortifying for her, and I would not do that to my child. It is my job as her mom to protect her from and solve situations like this. She is two.
So I dashed out the store and down the block to the only place that was open at 10am. Upon returning I told the sales associate, one who I knew and who knew me, that if I had not been in a bind I would not have been making this large purchase after the way I had been treated. She looked at me and told me basically the rules were the rules and that they simply couldn’t let me use the restroom. I told her that sometimes for customers, good customers, it was ok to break the rules. It was then that the twenty-something sales associate said:
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Sometimes it must be really hard to be a mom with little kids.”
As I stood in front of her, wearing lululemon from head to toe, carrying a lululemon bag, I looked around the store. There were more than a dozen other moms shopping for Father’s Day alongside me. This is a store that has a chest of toys for children near the dressing rooms, and used to hold regular stroller fitness classes for their customers. The only thing hard was the situation these sales associates were creating for a very good customer. Lululemon’s whole mission is community and support. This entire interaction was anything but that.
Anyone who knows me knows, lululemon/Athleisure is the dress code in my office. I have been more of a brand ambassador of lululemon than many of the instructors who actually are on the walls in your stores. I don’t take this one person’s comment as a reflection of your brand, it could have been said by anyone. However, I do hold you responsible for maintaining a respectful sales floor in all of your stores, for all customers — -not just moms.
I am not sharing this story because I was barred from using your restroom. I am sharing it because of what resulted from it. You employ DOZENS of moms (many of whom I am friends with.) The last time I checked, it was MOMS who were parading around Bucktown, around Chicago, around the country, wearing your apparel to both workout and hang out. We are probably your biggest demographic of shoppers, with the most spending power, and THIS is what one of your twenty-something sales associates says to me? That it must be hard to be a mom with small children.
Wouldn’t it be nice if stores like lululemon made the shopping experience easier for their best customers? Maybe then being a mom wouldn’t be so hard. (Insert sarcasm.)
Your team needs to know that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.