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by Abigail Van Buren

Customers' Kids Are Wrecking Owner's Business

DEAR ABBY: I'm a small-business owner. I have an educational supply and toy store. Business has been pretty good, even through the hard times.

My problem is my customers' children are about to put me out of business. They are out of control. They climb on shelving, open products, tear things apart and throw screaming tantrums.

Their parents let them run through the store like it's a playground. I have signs posted at the entrance and around the store reminding parents to attend to their children.

We have lost a lot of inventory due to these brats, and my time is consumed trying to keep them in line instead of working with my customers. I don't go to their homes and wreck them. I wish they'd show the same respect for my business. Thanks for any advice you can offer. -- HAD IT WITH OVERINDULGED KIDS

DEAR HAD IT: If possible, designate a small area of your store where kids can go to play while their parents are shopping. Also, post a sign at the cash register that reads: "Customers Will Be Charged for Broken or Damaged Items."

The problem you are experiencing is one that is shared by many other retailers. If any of them are reading this column, I'd love to know how they resolved this problem.

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