The free, blue strollers shaped like cars that have been available to shoppers at CF Richmond Centre for the past decade will be gone by the end of May.
They’re being replaced by Velochi Strollers by Smarte Carte with embedded tablets to keep kids entertained for $8 per day, and at least one Richmond parent is unhappy about the switch.
“I was appalled and a little bit angry too,” said Jasmine Chan, a teacher with a two-year-old son. “I feel like it was forced.”
When picking up one of the old strollers last week, which her son loves because he can pretend to drive it, an attendant gave Chan a voucher to try one of the new strollers for freebefore they get rid of the old strollers completely. Chan asked if she could have one without a screen, and the attendant said no.
“She saidyou could turn the screen off, but I said that’s not really the point,” Chan said. “Some kids that are old enough can turn it back on.”
Manisha Narang, spokesperson for CF Richmond Centre, said the new tablet strollers come with a variety of amenities like rungs for parents to place shopping bags and cup holders that can accommodate all sizes of drinks.
They also have a mesh, hammock-style seat that can accommodate taller children, Narang added.
“The current stroller program was nearing the end of its lifecycle, (so) we looked at several stroller programs and several products,” she said.
There will be no free alternative to the $8-per-day tablet strollers once the old ones leave the property next month, Narang confirmed.
Chan voiced her displeasure on social media, and several community members commented they were sorry to see the blue strollers go.
Other parents, however, voiced support for the new tablet strollers, saying they occupy their children and let them shop in peace.
Chan acknowledges tablets may be welcomed by some parents. She just wishes there was a choice.
“I would like to keep the old strollers. I think that they’re working fine,” she said. “And we don’t need more screen time.”
Parents can also bring their own strollers to the mall.