Creating Accessible Stores for Our Community
Creating Accessible Stores for Our Community
This video from the 2018 Presidents Group Roundtable features Dan Bregg, Presidents Group member and President of Buy-Low Foods. He talks about creating accessible stores for our community.
It’s important to us because we want to see the people in our communities being reflected in our businesses.
Shortly after opening one of our newest stores in Langdon, Alberta, one of our team members in the store noticed that a family coming into the store had a child that had significant mobility challenges. This had made it very difficult for them to carry out the routine tasks of grocery shopping for their family on a weekly basis. After seeing this, our team member approached the store manager and had a proposal that our store purchase a Caroline’s Cart for the store. For those of you that don’t know what a Caroline’s Cart is, it’s a grocery cart that’s been designed to carry persons, including full-grown adults with mobility cart challenges in the shopping cart, facing the shopper.
Our store in Lindon became only the second store in the province of Alberta to have one of these carts, and since then our teams have worked to add Caroline’s Carts in other communities, and we now have them in four locations including all three of our South Okanagan stores and we’re working to add them into more of our stores.
Another great example of inclusion comes from our store in Osoyoos, BC. They have a weekly bus for people with disabilities that require additional assistance to be brought to the store, and often you’ll see the bus driver or one of our staff supporting by helping the customer when they don’t have a family member to assist in getting around the store. I’ve received many comments from our customers saying that they thoroughly enjoy the independence that they have to go and do their grocery shopping on their own.
Even though I believe that we have an open mind to accessibility, we still make mistakes. For instance last year we undertook a renovation in one of our Metro Vancouver stores and this involved replacing the old check stands with new checkouts and new point-of-sale hardware. Almost immediately thereafter I received a telephone call from a customer who is mobility challenged and who sits in a wheelchair. She told me that while our new checkers were very nice, the credit card PIN pad was no longer usable to her as it had now been secured to the check stand and was too high for her to see or enter her PIN on. As retailers we often secure these credit card readers to our checkouts to prevent fraud and other illegal activities. But not only had we made the PIN pad unusable for her, we’d also made the counter too high for her to place her purse while completing her transaction.
Well the good news is that this was easily fixed. We simply had to replace the standard PIN pad holder with a modified version that has a locking holder and long cord that can be unlocked by the cashier when required, letting us have our security for fraud and illegal issues, but still allowing the PIN pad to be used by a user that isn’t able to stand at the terminal. And you know what, the cost of these modifications was just a few hundred dollars and a lesson for all of us in considering the accessibility of future renovations and modifications to our existing stores, and when we’re planning new stores.
But we still have some work to do. As grocers, we love to fill aisles with displays as we try to encourage you to put one more item in your basket. The problem is that it makes the aisle difficult or near impossible for a person in a wheelchair or on another mobility device to navigate.
I have to tell you that this photo is staged, [image displayed in presentation] we would not normally have this many aisle display in our aisles. And we’ve adopted some rules now about the number of displays and their placement. We have a long ways to go before we get to this. In our new stores, we’re trying to ensure that all aisles are 7 feet wide, have no aisle displays at the entrances, have no more than two displays per 24 feet, and that all those displays are on the same side, to leave a clear path for carts, scooters, and wheelchairs.
It was our desire to make our workplaces more accessible for both employees and our customers that got us involved in the President’s Group. We’re going to have to continue to learn and adapt, and in the meantime, we celebrate all those people with their varying abilities that we have working in many of our stores and our distribution centers.