Stroller Consultation Part 1: The StrollerQueen Interview

Last week, I hinted at the fact that I had hired a stroller consultant. Yes, that fact is true. I paid $35 for the Stroller Queen to tell me all about countless models of strollers. One guy said it best this weekend when he pointed out that it is easier to buy a car, especially when your stroller is your car, as with the case with us.

I spotted the StrollerQueen somewhere online. I could buy a download for $7 to describe all of the 2009 model. Or I could pay her $35 for her to tell me the perfect stroller for me. It took me a couple of weeks to let it slip in front of Henry that I was considering paying her. I told Laura when we discussed venturing out to NoVa on a double date to look at strollers. Later Henry conceded that the entire experience would make a great blog entry.

So I can’t let this unfold all in one blog entry! So I will begin with the set of questions I answered along with my PayPal payment to the Stroller Queen.

First tell me the age and weight of the children who will be riding.

Newborn+ I am hoping that this will be my own and only stroller for my first child. She is due June 4th, 2009. I am hoping that this stroller will last me at least two years, except if it is way easier to have one thing for newborn and another for once she can hold her head up. But I have no storage options.

Do you want a single, double, or not sure?


Next, what strollers you like or don’t like and why.

I live in Washington, DC’s Chinatown. Based on the New York Magazine article that compared nine strollers, I was interested in the Bugaboo Bee and the Micralite Toro.

I saw a Bee at Rolly’s in Winston-Salem. I had a very hard time closing it with both hands warm. I can only imagine when it is 30 degrees outside, like this January. I also wanted to have an option to place the baby in the stroller without using a car seat. I think that “the nest” is available for that, but it was not completely clear to me. Plus, I didn’t love the fact that it sort of looks like a wheelchair for kids with disabilities. BUT, if this is the best stroller for me, I can get over the aesthetics.

I have never seen a Micralite Toro in person, but I would prefer to have the stroller also face me. I live across the street from the Verizon Center, which is the home of the Washington Wizards and four other sports teams, plus hosts events like the one tonight, The Monster Truck Rally. I would love to be able to protect my baby from these crazy crowds of roughly 20,000 people.

Also, there is a liquor store on my corner that attracts an unsavory crowd, who hang out on our sidewalk pretty much consistent with business hours. They bring sandwiches and have “a party.” This includes people sitting on those little motorized carts. So I need for my stroller to be fairly narrow to weave through these people. I generally just walk on the outer edge of the parking meters, but I will not be able to do that with a stroller.

I was pretty shocked to see that UPPAbaby Vista (maybe) has a canopy that you can pull all the way down to hide the baby from the elements. I did like that, but I could not tell how much it weighed and I am trying to keep this stroller as light as possible. I started to think that the weight was a lot more once I added the seat to the frame. It is all just a little confusing.

How tall are you, and anyone else who will be pushing the stroller?

I am 5’7″ and my husband is 5’10”.

Tell me what kind of environment you live in,(i.e. big city, small town, climate, smooth sidewalks, bumpy areas, etc.).

As stated before, we live in downtown Washington, DC. I have a lot of experience driving one of those little grandma carts to the grocery store. Some of the things that I dislike about my grandma cart: not easy to manuever, too short, can’t walk with a full stride, can easily get caught on bumps and tip over. There are quite a few bumps/variations in the sidewalk from missing bricks, patches, tree roots, curbs, construction, etc. Plus I also walk on the National Mall, which includes some sandy/dirt areas.

Washington is definitely a four seasons area. It has been below average for the last 16 days in a row. I think that it got up to 39 today. For the inauguration it was in the 20s. It is pretty unbearable. But we also have very hot summers. A couple of years ago we had a heat wave that was up into the 90s. Our a/c was out and all of the gum in the house melted, plus our envelopes sealed together.

How about your lifestyle– much walking do you do? Do you go to the beach, or malls, or walk on trails, etc.?

I spend most of my time downtown. My transportation methods in order include: walking, bus, metro (with escalator), car – very rarely. I moved my car for the first time on Wednesday January 21st since December 19th. We fly to my in-laws at least once a year.

Where do you plan to keep the stroller, i.e. how much storage space do you have?

We live in a condo with 1005 sq ft. We have one small coat closet in our condo and no exterior storage. There is enough room under a lowered rack for maybe 8 short coats, which I have cleaned out. I also have a small vacuum in there and a pail for umbrellas. There is a larger closet in the building hallway, where I store my grandma cart. It is primarily empty, aside from someone’s forgotten cardboard boxes. I hope to store my stroller there. Worst case scenario, I will store it in our guest bath for short term solutions, when I don’t want to break down the stroller between trips.

Do you absolutely need the easiest fold possible?

This is pretty important, because I like to get in and out of the car quickly possible as my defense mechanism against homeless people or hustlers. We do have quite a bit of crime in our area. I can’t have something that is pretty time consuming. I like to be quick about anything I do outside – walking, getting in and out of my car, etc. We have limited street parking, which is unassigned. Plus, I am not sure if I will need to fold up the stroller in taking public transportation.

How much upper body strength do you have, for lifting your stroller in and out of the car? And is this something you will be doing several times a day?

Ummm…. I am not sure how much strength I have. I have a pretty active lifestyle, but I don’t work out at a gym. So I can’t say I can lift x amount of pounds. I mainly walk and do Tai Chi with an 88 year old teacher. I will not be putting the stroller in the car that much. But I will likely take the steps in our lobby over the small handicap elevator several. I will also need to be able to hold/balance the stroller on the escalator going into the Metro. Some of those are pretty steep, but elevators are available.

Also, my life’s motto is “be light.” So I generally make decisions based on this. For example, I tried on a pair of boots that were heavy. Even though they were a classic, I was on the fence and opted not to buy them because they weren’t light. But a stroller is a little more complicated, right?

What kind of colors or styles do you like–i.e. traditional, cutting edge, navy, orange polka dots, etc?

I like more modern, no patterns. I don’t care about logos. My goal with this is primarily utilitarian. I don’t have any friends that I am trying to impress or compete with. I don’t even know that there are any other babies in my neighborhood other than those in the Chinese community.

These last two Q’s are most important…

What you think you might like to use the stroller for? (Of course, everyone sometimes goes to malls, fairs, neighborhood walks, etc. So it is helpful if you can be a little more specific. )

Primarily walk, take public transportation, go out to eat, shopping at the grocery store or small stores… 98% urban. Maybe a few trips to NC and FL a year. I will need some kind of storage to carry things with me for trips to the store.

And, do you have an absolute budget? If so, let me know. And don’t worry, we’ll find the best model for you, within your range.

I am pretty frugal, but I have already concluded that the stroller is my big ticket item. I would be very pleased with finding something in the $500-600 range, because don’t you also have to buy a car seat, etc. It seems like every way you turn, there is an extra $200. But I don’t want to cut myself off from the perfect solution. So if there is a perfect no-limit solution, can you give me that along with a couple of options that are more reasonable? Of course, if my stroller is less $500 I would be so so happy.

We are going to NYC this coming weekend (1/31-2/2), so I thought that might be a good time to compare strollers as opposed to driving around the Metro DC burbs. That is a challenge in itself, which is why we stay pretty confined to downtown DC.

Thanks! I am certain that this is way longer than it needs to be.

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  1. Anonymous

    “I don’t have any friends that I am trying to impress or compete with.”

    This is the most ridiculous comment I ever heard from someone considering buying a Bugaboo.

  2. Caroline Armijo

    Thanks for your candor, Anonymous.

    I am not 100% in love with the Bugaboo Bee. So I would love for you to present me with any options that weight less and aren’t as wide. Two strollers – one for newborn and one for later – is not an option.

    I’m looking forward to what you find.

  3. Caroline Armijo

    I also forgot reversible.

  4. Anonymous

    “I will also need to be able to hold/balance the stroller on the escalator going into the Metro.”

    Please look at the videos on you tube of moms trying to take strollers on escalators.. scary stuff!

    ..a loyal follower of the queen 🙂

  5. kak

    I LOVE the bugaboo strollers! I have the Cameleon, Frog & Bee. And, I LOVE them all. Certainly the best quality stroller out there as far as I am concerned and trust me I have tried EVERY high end stroller out there! Why must people think if you have a bugaboo you want to impress people? When people ask me why I purchased such a "showy-popular stroller" I tell them to push it! My husband will push nothing else but the Bugaboo (p.s. he doesnt like the bee his favorite is the cameleon)!

    I think the best option for you might be the Bugaboo Bee or the Orbit Baby. The toros wheels are way too wide in the front although it is a nice stroller it is very tippy and too wide in my opinion.

    If I had to suggest a stroller for you I would tell you to get the Orbit Baby! and second choice would be the Bee.

  6. Gigi

    I find “the strollerqueen” to be highly overrated and very full of herself. She tends to recommend brands that she has close connections to. She’s currently having issues of her own with the Bugaboo Bee and has been complaining to everyone on her mailing list about it.

    Personally if I had to pick one stroller and needed something for the city I would get a Stokke Xplory, it is heavier than the Bee but it’s a far nicer stroller, better company in my experience as well.

  7. Anonymous

    well that anonymous was a tad rude. You can buy bugaboo for quality…but whatever.. I can’t afford one anyway.
    Have you looked at the micralite fastfold with a carrycot? Not reversible but you will be able to see baby while in carrycot. It will work great until preschool age. You Could get it pretty cheap from mamabargains and it’s a good stroller.
    What did strollerqueen recommend? My inlaws live in the DC area and I hate choosing strollers to bring. I could not imagine living there.
    Good luck!

  8. Matt & Taylor

    C–we have a Bugaboo frog that you’re welcome to come and test out. So far we love it. I also recently read about the Mutsy stroller and it’s supposedly amazing.

  9. Caroline Armijo

    Thank you for all of your great comments! These are really helpful!

    The StrollerQueen was awesome. She knows her stuff and definitely earned her $35 with the countless emails we exchanged.

    I just got back from NC, so I am ready to post my Part 2 and Part 3. Actually, I’m not sure how many parts it will be yet. But strollers are clearly a hot topic. Whew!

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