Advice for shopkeeper suffering unruly kids

DEAR ABBY: I managed a retail store for 10 years, and I can relate to the shop owner who signed herself "Had It With Overindulged Kids." She could turn things around by creating a designated play area and marketing to the children by taking any opened items and placing them there for a children's testing ground.

They are your customers. So cater to them and be thankful the parents shop in your store. Learn the children's names and suggest new age-appropriate products. If you don't have the time, hire someone who loves children and has the patience to play with them in a controlled environment.

- Joyce from Michigan

DEAR JOYCE: Thank you for the helpful advice. Customers and retailers alike shared their experiences. Here's a sampling:


DEAR ABBY: I posted a sign that read, "IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU BOUGHT IT." If they refused, I didn't push the issue, but I did gesture upward. They would always look up, and when they did, I'd thank them for smiling at our cameras.

Any child found unaccompanied would be escorted to our customer service area and the parents paged repeatedly until they showed up.

Since I instituted these policies, the condition of the store has improved and old customers who left due to the old circumstances are returning.

- Survivor of Retail Hell

DEAR ABBY: How about a sign: "Well-Behaved Children Will Win a Prize," then rewarding such children with a small gift? It would be worth the expense of small tokens of appreciation compared to the cost of broken merchandise.

- Gloria in Lafayette, Calif.

DEAR ABBY: I like the sign a friend of mine put up in her store: "Unattended children will be given espresso and a puppy and returned to their parents."

- Marjory in Blowing Rock, N.C.