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The Stroller Coaster

I've always considered myself to be an excellent researcher. Hell, most of my major classes in school depended on it. So between researching demographics/marketing data for school, and having an OCD-influenced habit of reading online reviews before major purchases, I considered myself a research savant. Things have changed.

Strollers have effectively crushed my research ego.

Let's take an abridged walk down stroller lane. Strollers. Seems simple enough.

But wait a second, have decisions to make. Long gone are the days of just getting a STROLLER. Do you want a standard stroller, a lightweight stroller, a jogging stroller, a travel system, or a tandem stroller?

Hmmmm..okay, let's go a different route here..let's look at some brands, that should make this a bit easier.

BRANDS? Oh, we've got brands alright! Evenflo, Graco, Chicco, Bugaboo, Maclaren, Zooper, Baby Trend, Safety 1st, Combi, UPPAbaby...

Whoa whoa whoa..since when did GM start producing strollers too? Is the baby product market so competitive that the number of manufacturers needs to be in the double digits?

And well, the answer is yes. For all intensive purposes, it seems that the stroller stopped being about the baby a long time ago. Now the differentiating factors lie in the various creature comforts that are in store for Mom and Dad rather than the little one. Cupholders, storage bins, shopping baskets, one-handed steering (which I'd like to see accomplished with two klutzy dogs in tow), off-road capabilities, and on and on. And travel systems are a totally different animal, with the ability to turn a car seat into a carrier into a stroller attachment. My mind has officially been blown, and not by Sony, Microsoft, Apple, or any other technology giant. Oh no, that honor goes to Graco.

And you best believe that the user reviews on these products are a ridiculous combination of entertaining and informative. Just by reading some of these people's maniacal rants, you can tell their children are going to be the home-schooled bubble children who end up working at Erotic City and freaking out on PCP. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but really..some of these people need to chill out.

So needless to say, the past week or so has been a flurry of online research and attempts to whittle this redwood into a toothpick by narrowing down a final stroller list. Which led me to a frantic lunchtime escapade yesterday.

5 minutes before I'm about to leave for lunch, I see a Twitter message from BabyCheapskate (yeah, that's right) announcing a deal on Babies R Us' website for a Graco travel system for only $85 after discount (normal price is around $230). As soon as I see this and verify it, my game face is on. I felt like Indiana Jones in the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, getting ready to swap the bag for the gold idol. E-mailing and making phone calls all at once, I was determined to snag this deal while it was still good. Always a clutch player, Dad jumped in and went through all the steps to order this bad boy, and then met a final screen that said PRODUCT NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

Sigh. Frustrating, but I won't give up hope. I am determined enough, and am slowly becoming cheap enough, that I WILL hunt down a deal on something..stroller, high chair, year's supply of pacifiers. Oh yes, I will.

In the meantime, I'm going to look for a stroller that is bluetooth-enabled and has built-in speakers with an audio-in port for my mp3 player. Ava and I aren't going to just walk, we're gonna HUSTLE.


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