If management knew the two were on the premises, they wouldn't be happy. Soon the couple reaches the store's back wall, which is packed with baby bedding.
Denise is passionate about overpriced products — expensive Bugaboo strollers give her fits — so crib sets costing hundreds of dollars and featuring plush quilts, crib bumpers and pillows, nearly cause apoplexy. Not to mention the safety issues. The U. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recommended that crib linens be limited to a fitted sheet and a simple cotton blanket.
This is not supposed to be used in the crib at all," fumes Denise. Despite their skepticism, however, the Fieldses say they are far from anti-capitalist Luddites. What is better than choice? The people who produce the best products with the best safety record usually come out on top. While they still sell well, designer strollers are so The next big thing, the hot new baby-product trend, is high chairs. Denise and Alan consider this development as they sit in their home office, surrounded by marketing pamphlets from the recent ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, where they talked with more than vendors over three days.
The seat, which can be transformed into a futuristic newborn "sleeping pod," is encased in a plastic shell with microsuede upholstery inside. Who, exactly, was the stroller's target audience? Wasn't it obvious?
The expo had also revealed the free-range, all-natural, organic fad. But manufacturers are making up for lost time. A representative of a Romanian crib designer had bragged about a model finished in all-natural beeswax. Or was it mohair fleece? The two begin poring over glossy brochures and googling websites, debating the relative urine-absorption capacities of horse and goat hair.
Alan looks up from his studies, a bewildered look on his face. The Fieldses face each other across an expansive, cluttered desk — Denise, the sensible researcher and wordsmith, on one side, and Alan, the high-energy marketing expert, on the other. This is the extent of their publishing company, Windsor Peak Press a name that's meant to evoke the sophistication of British royalty and the splendor of their nearby natural surroundings but "really means nothing," says Denise.
Here they cut through the latest overblown baby crazes with impunity, shattering slogans and misconceptions with their trademark snarky humor and unabashed pragmatism. Baby Bargains , the book, begins with a disenchanting revelation: "Murphy's Law of Baby Toys says your baby's happiness with a toy is inversely related to the toy's price. The book gives cribs sold at Wal-Mart under the name Cosco an "F," noting that "Cosco must translate as 'recall' in Canadian. Regarding diaper stackers, a popular linen bag used to store diapers, they write: "Apparently, bedding makers must think stacking diapers on the shelf of your changing table or storing them in a drawer is a major etiquette breach.
Take my word for it: babies are not worried if their diapers are out in plain sight. And the authors lambaste car-seat manufacturer Graco for merely distributing a press release when nearly a million of their seats were found to be defective instead of sending recall notices to the parents who'd mailed in warranty and registration cards. In their book, they document crib companies that have changed names to distance themselves from past product recalls.
They've pushed furniture manufacturers to post the results of lead-paint tests on their websites and encouraged retailers to stop displaying cribs outfitted in unnecessary and controversial soft bedding. In many cases, they've gotten what they've asked for. And the couple actively disputes the Juvenile Products Manufacturer Association's pro-safety image; the Fieldses acquired internal JPMA documents detailing attempts to downplay concerns about baby-bottle and crib-bedding safety and published them on www.
Their concerns are often valid — and timely. Over the past few months, toy manufacturers have recalled more than a million products because they contain lead paint. Over the summer, many baby-product experts — including the Fieldses — changed their baby-bottle recommendations after a National Institutes of Health panel raised concerns that the chemical bisphenol A, contained in many of the most popular plastic baby bottles, could cause neurological problems in children.
And in September, a million cribs were recalled because of strangulation risks — the largest recall of full-sized cribs in U. Jars of baby food and boxes of booties sit on a desk corner of their office, swag that will be given away. To maintain objectivity, the couple refuses to take handouts from manufacturers, won't include ads in their books and insists on self-publishing.
That independence hasn't hindered their success; in fact, it gives them a larger share of profits from book sales — which aren't too shabby to begin with. On the walls and shelves around the Fieldses, in between photos of their sons, are framed articles about them from Money and People magazines, plus "Oprah" coffee mugs, mementos from their multiple appearances on the show. Through the window is a stunning vista of the Flatirons — literally a million-dollar view, considering their sizable, immaculate Victorian on Boulder's Mapleton Hill.
In total, the Fieldses have sold 1. The largest share belongs to Baby Bargains , but their other primary publication, Bridal Bargains , isn't too far behind.
There are angled bottles and disposable bottles, non-drip bottles and hands-free bottles, even bottles with nipples that mimic the feel of a mother's breast. See terms - opens in a new window or tab. Customers who bought this item also bought. Bottom line: baby gear is a big business. I hate them. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us. Seller Rating:.
That book, which the couple still publishes, broke down the wedding industry the same way Baby Bargains takes baby-product manufacturers to task. There have been other books, as well. They are currently phasing out a Baby Bargains followup called Toddler Bargains. The book didn't do as well as they'd hoped, Alan says, because when children reach that age, their parents "run out of time to read. But babies and weddings are enough to keep them busy.
There's a longstanding rumor in bridal-industry circles that the Fieldses must have experienced one of the worst weddings imaginable. And after People magazine profiled the couple, Denise got a cranky call from someone who told her that just because she had a rotten wedding day doesn't mean she should ruin it for everyone else. The two met in at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Denise, a native Coloradan, was studying Elizabethan England, and Alan, from Dallas, was focused on product marketing.
They moved to Austin, Texas, after graduating, but decided to travel back to Loveland — Denise's home town — to get married. As they planned the big day, the two got the idea for the book and began secretly shopping gown stores and wedding-cake bakers around Austin, pretending they were going to get married in town. Along the way, they discovered that getting to the bottom of the bridal industry wasn't as simple as rating local wedding DJs. These days, each couple "wants to make a statement about who they are and where they are headed," says David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants.
They are trying to set the tone for the rest of their lives together.
It's not an entirely new phenomenon. So I think, in a way, we have to make them more significant. Wedding professionals, she adds, are happy to encourage them: "The people in the wedding industry have realized the bridal consumers are at a very attractive time in their lives, if you are in the business of selling stuff.
They are young, attractive consumers, and the wedding industry knows this is an occasion that people are willing to spend full price on things. Nobody wants to be seen as cheap on their wedding day. But there's a difference between being cheap and getting swindled, the Fieldses say. Their own wedding was a simple affair at a dude ranch along the Big Thompson River in Denise wore her mother's gown, and the couple found good deals on flowers and a cake at local shops.
That was nothing compared to the boondoggles they discovered researching the wedding industry. In , before their own big day, they published copies of an Austin-based wedding consumer guide. In the books, the couple focused on something they had seen repeatedly in news stories: bridal shops that had closed unexpectedly, leaving brides-to-be who had paid hundreds or thousands in deposits without a dress or even a refund. They began tracking these shops and noting "guerrilla sales tactics," such as dress stores that purposely ordered wrong-sized gowns so brides had to pay for costly alterations, and florists who marked up costs based on what type of cars customers drove.
They railed against exorbitant charges, like try-on fees at dress stores and cake-cutting premiums at reception sites. They reported to the media that some bridal magazines refused to print ads for dress-rental companies to keep gown makers happy.
And they reprinted provocative quotes they discovered in bridal trade publications, like this one, from an unnamed bridal magazine publisher: "Never before in a woman's life, and never again, is she going to be worth this much money to a marketer. There is no price resistance, and she is completely open to new brands. They were banned from trade shows, and a bridal magazine editor attacked them in a letter to the Wall Street Journal , saying their advice shouldn't be trusted because they hadn't worked in the industry. And they are recommending people go to the gown salons, try on dresses, and then buy them online.
It costs somewhere around a quarter of a million to open a gown salon, and they are encouraging readers to waste these people's time and energy and not make a sale. In my mind, I would call that fraud. Consumers called it useful. In , the local guides were replaced by a national version, Bridal Bargains , and praise spread like wildfire. I planned my entire wedding around Bridal Bargains. In , the Fieldses got a long-distance call.
Oprah wanted them on her show — that Monday. The attention tripled their book sales. They moved back to Colorado and built a 3,square-foot home in Monument before eventually settling in Boulder. One newspaper called them the "Ralph Naders of the bridal industry," and it seemed like nothing they could do would top such success. They couldn't help it.
The appeal of the "all-in-one" travel-system stroller was overwhelming. It could transform from baby carriage to a car seat to an infant carrier to a toddler stroller — with the baby in the middle of it all never having to wake up! They would come to regret it. I hate them. By that point, the Fieldses had already decided to use Denise's pregnancy as the impetus to expand their empire. And in , they published Baby Bargains. But while they had already tangled with persnickety bridal consultants and egotistical cake bakers, they weren't prepared for the baby-product industry.