Michaels is a pretty family friendly place, right? After all, I spend loads of money there buying crafts for my kid to do (and then posting it here for you to read). They have aisles dedicated to kid crafts, kid classes and clubs, and shelves stocked full of cute baby themed crafts…so they must like moms, right?
Jessa Marie isn’t so sure.
Jessa is a St. Louis area mom who said that a Michaels’ employee in Brentwood told her not to use their craft room to nurse her baby, soon to be one-year old. She said in a Facebook post that her child was fussy while she and her own mother were shopping for party goods, so she slipped into the nice clean craft room to nurse.
An employee at the Michael’s Brentwood (St. Louis) Missouri store told myself and my daughter that we should nurse OUTSIDE in the 104 degree heat instead of discreetly in the craft room.
Wow. Jessa went on to say that she asked another employee if there was a better place for her to feed her child and they were “extremely hesitant to find us a place to nurse.”
Oh, and there were three other ladies in the craft room who didn’t seem to mind Jessa and her child in the room at all. “One of the three patrons in the craft room finally stood up for me and said, ‘Let her nurse,'” Jessa posted.
Problem solved? Not so fast. The store employee pulled a chair into the corner for her. “I sat facing the wall (that’s where they graciously sat me) and fed her for as short a period as I could, about 5 minutes. I don’t think I could possibly have any more discretion,” she said in a comment to her original Facebook post.
Once Jessa and her family returned home, she said she called the store to speak to the manager. She was “extremely unsympathetic” and “offered a very insincere apology.” Jessa posted that she is returning the $120 worth of party goods they bought for the baby’s first birthday…and will be spreading the word for other nursing moms to not shop there.
It looks like the power of social media may have come into play on this case, because if you dig around Micheals’ Facebook page, you’ll see the original, unimpressive apology from Micheals. It’s plopped in the comments section of an unrelated post from the store about their fabulous website. A supporter of Jessa called them out, saying, “Will be boycotting you and going to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores instead since you have failed to train employees about the rights of breastfeeding mothers.”
A few hours later, Micheals (or their Facebook handlers) offered this nugget:
We are very sorry that one of our associates did not follow our policy on nursing in our stores. For many years, our policy has been: Customers are welcome to breastfeed or express milk in our stores. If a customer asks for a private space, we’ll make every possible accommodation for the mother and child’s privacy and comfort. This policy is in effect at all of our locations throughout the US and Canada, and we will review our policy with all stores as a reminder.
Later that evening, Michaels had more time to think about it. They posted on the Michaels Facebook page:
You may have seen that an associate in one of our stores made a mistake and did not follow our policy on nursing in our stores. It has been our policy for years to allow customers to breastfeed or express milk while visiting our stores. If a customer asks us for a private space, we make every possible accommodation for the mother and child’s privacy and comfort. Unfortunately, we didn’t handle a customer’s request very well. We’re sorry, and have conveyed our apology directly to the mother. We’ve also sent a reminder to all of our stores to prevent something like this from happening again.
Fans of Michaels seem to think the store has done enough. Said one customer:
As a mom of former nurslings, a lactation counselor & educator, I applaud you for this wonderful response! Thank you for this phenomenal support. Being a mom is tough enough as is.
Another customer pointed out her completely different experience at a Michaels:
I was offered an office at Michael’s when I was nursing my baby on a bench by the bathroom. I was so impressed. I’m glad they continue to take this position.
What do you think? Did Michaels do enough to apologize to Jessa? Would you boycott a store that asked a mom to not breastfeed?
Micheals’ is based in Texas and currently owns and operates more than 1,100 Michaels stores in 49 states and Canada.