Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Why is Scandinavian baby stuff so damned cute and expensive?


We're house hunting - have I mentioned that here? We figured that what with Hoss coming and our apartment being increasingly small even for the two of us, to say nothing of a young hatchling, it was about time for us to get a more permanent location. We've both wanted a house for a while, but our financial situation hasn't been so great (bad credit scores from living off credit cards in grad school) and the housing market where we live has gone kind of insane over the last 5 years. We're finally in a position where buying is a possibility, but not exactly a pure pleasure. Compromise is the word of the day: We can either live closer to where we work, OR we can live in a nice neighborhood. We can either have a bigger house, OR we can have a house that doesn't need any work done on it. You know the drill. We're both pretty handy people, so we're OK with doing cosmetic work on a house, and we were mentally prepared to make certain sacrifices, but still it's been hard to find the right place. Is it worth it to have a nice house if it means doubling or tripling Mr. Squab's commute time? Is it worth it to have a short commute if we're living in a sketchy neighborhood? Tough questions, particularly considering that I'm planning on going back to work only part time after Hoss arrives.

All this is by way of explaining why, when I'm browsing my favorite baby product sites, I'm naturally drawn to the absolutely most fricking expensive products out there. This is the case particularly when the prices aren't posted on the initial page. Part of the problem is that both Mr. Squab and I are persnickety about design. I mean, I know most baby-related stuff is primarily functional, but does it have to be so damn ugly? Have you ever looked at the baby section of Target? The clothes are all pretty cute, sure, but most of the strollers and cribs and playpens are U.G.L.Y. They don't have no alibi! (that was for you, Ali). They're bulky and clunky looking and most of them are decorated in hideous baby-themed colors and patterns. Me no likey. What I do like is Scandinavian baby stuff. I dunno if its the fjords or what, but those Scandihoovians just understand how to design shit, you know? And baby stuff is no exception. Compare and contrast:

Ugly-ass American stroller:


Chic and sporty Scandinavian (ok, Dutch) stroller:


Ugly-ass American high-chair:


Super sweet Scandinavian high-chair:


So you can see what I mean. Unfortunately, the chic kid's stuff costs on average about twelvety billion times more than the ugly stuff. (For example, that cool looking stroller runs about $895 a pop. Which I could maybe see if I were planning on having 9 children or something, but otherwise, um ... no.) Of course the baby sites are all filled with comments from yuppie ├╝ber-parents raving about how the cost is so totally worth it, the products are so much better, last forever, make your kid smarter, ensure their entrance into Vassar, etc. All of which I'm sure is true, only like I said, we're still trying to figure out how to afford a house in a neighborhood where the crack dealers are at least somewhat covert in their activities. So we'll look for cheaper American knock-offs of Scandinavian design, and see what Ikea has to offer, and the kid won't even know the difference. But man, when I win the lottery ... Ima get me some NICE. BABY. STUFF.