I used to be right up to date with my knowledge of all the best outdoor gear and kit. I worked in the snowboard department in a large outdoor shop in Covent Garden in my twenties, and through my years working ski seasons was fairly up to speed with the latest brands and equipment. That all changed when I became a Mum. Shops became a no go zone. My children dictated that shopping must be essential and completed hastily. Mundane online shopping replaced the pleasure of spending whole days browsing stores to find the ideal kit or gadget. I now feel very out of touch and rarely feel comfortable taking the family to the type of shops of used to love exploring and knew so well.
When I was invited to visit the newest branch of Go Outdoors in Tonbridge last week I initially felt nervous. I’d have my toddler in tow and I find him a handful in a soft play….never mind a brand new superstore! However, Go Outdoors have an incredibly refreshing approach to family shopping. This outdoor company are well aware of the challenges parents face shopping with youngsters, embracing a more relaxed attitude to family shoppers and taking much of the stress and strain out of the experience in the process.
So what exactly is it that Go Outdoors do to create a welcoming family environment? Well, a number of things….let me tell you…
A Warm Welcome
From the moment I walked into Go Outdoors with my 2 year old I felt that we were both welcome. I was prepared to confine my whirlwind toddler to his pushchair for the duration of our visit to minimise any damage….BUT….during my first interaction with a Go Outdoors member of staff I was encouraged to release him! ‘We have an outdoor tent showroom he might like to explore‘ I was told. Indeed he did. This friendly attitude was echoed through every interaction with any member of staff. My son was accepted as customer and invited to try kit and explore the store just as much as I was. This completely changed the whole shopping experience for me. The usual stressed and sweaty exercise of postponing tantrums was replaced by a fun experience we enjoyed together!!
Ease of access
The Tonbridge Superstore is situated in a retail park meaning the shop’s footprint is large and spacious. Parking is available directly opposite the store meaning you can park on your own with your family and not have to worry about struggling too far with bags. Aisles are wide and well laid out with plenty of space to manoeuvre a pushchair or wheelchair should you need to, and there’s a lift to access the second floor. During our visit there weren’t any public toilets but I believe these are planned for the future. We were, however, given access to staff toilets when I needed to change my son and found these clean and practical.
Go Outdoors has a number of specialist departments…and covers all aspects of outdoor life. During our visit we came across knowledgeable staff who were clearly passionate about the field they work in. The store boasts well stocked departments in cycling, fishing, horse riding, hiking, camping, running, climbing and travel all of which offer a wide selection of products which expert staff will happily support you in making well informed decisions.
Go Outdoors offer their customers a discount card which allows savings of up to 50% off the retail price. The card usually costs £5 (which will allow for savings far beyond that value) but to celebrate the opening of the Tonbridge store they are currently inviting customers to join the discount scheme for free. This means that Go Outdoors is incredibly good value in comparison to other high street adventure stores….indeed if you DO find an item cheaper in a rival store they promise to beat the price by 10%! I was able to kit out the whole family with winter essentials for less than £150 including:
- Women’s winter coat
- Girls winter coat
- Boys waterproof all in one
- Men’s tee shirt
- Women’s hoody
- Boys hat
- Girls ear warmers
- OS map
- Packet of fudge
When investing in family outerwear I need it to be durable and hard wearing. Our children are highly skilled at not only getting clothing filthy but also in testing the limits of resistance by climbing trees, dragging themselves through bushes and who knows what else. I have found that the clothing we have bought from Go Outdoors to be just that. We found a good range in all departments with a wide choice of styles and colours. The kids gear appealed to them on personal levels….Logan loved the bat wings on his all in one, and Daisy loved the coziness of her ‘sleeping bag’ jacket. The range of choice and quality is just as good in the adult departments with great brands such as Mons Royale, Kathmandu and Rab in stock.
I was really impressed by our experience at Go Outdoors. The staff were welcoming and informed, the products on offer were displayed clearly and offered a wide choice and everything in store was exceptionally good value. We already have plans to make a return visit in preparation for our future camping escapades with a renewed confidence in shopping as a family.
We were invited to review the new Go Outdoor store and given £150 credit to spend in store. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I’d like to say a big thank you to Steph, Alec and the rest of the Tonbridge team for making us feel so welcome.