The Ramblings of 4WheelBob
America's premier wheelchair hiker speaks.
Things I Hate to See - Saying Goodbye to a Good Store

I usually make it a point to get out during my lunchtime - sometimes I roll a variant of one of my loops around Walnut Creek, CA, anywhere from 4 to 8 miles. Today, still recovering after a weekend of rain, wind and great hiking at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, I decided to save my strength for the gym this evening and look for a new hydration pack. Lucky for me - Sports Basement, one of the Bay Area's most socially conscious outdoors retailers, was just two long blocks away.

Once inside, though, things looked different. "Team Sports", read the signs in the area where packs, bags, sleeping bags and tents had been the past two summers. We'd bought a lot of gear, Gina and I, since the store opened. And the staff is most helpful, always. Heck, they even posted a "White Mountain" article in the doorway when they opened. I was flattered.

So I asked if they'd discontinued the camping / backpacking lines. No, the nice woman told me, but it was moved upstairs...

Upstairs - literally. For most of the store's life, shoes had been "upstairs." No worries for me, as I don't need shoes very often, capiche? But the tough part is that there is no elevator to the 2nd level, a lofty kind of space built in the frame of an old Lucky Store.

So I dragged myself out of the chair, lifting both me and chair up to the loft, step by butt creasing step. I wasn't happy by the time I made the top. I found what I was looking for, but wasn't in a mood to add anything more to the trip back down to Level One. The most ironic piece? I began to look at the shoes anyway, but the pallets on which they were spread were so close together I couldn't get through them to see the shoes I wanted to look at! Oh, well....

Now, this is not an ADA issue. It's not a public or government building. And Sports Basement is a solid member of each community in which their stores are located. But believe me, if I have to climb a flight of stairs to look at a tent, then no thanks...I'll just head over to REI where the building is more welcoming.

And that's the point. Why shop where I don't feel welcome? Would you? I doubt the management of Sports Basement would, either. I know how expensive a lift would be, and I know margins in retail are razor thin right now. But I also know that if your base of potential customers is limited by the overall accessibility of your store, you potentially lose business. So my message to SportsBasement? I love ya, guys, but I can't shop in a place that requires such a workout to get what I want to get.

2009-04-14 22:30:46 GMT
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