Occupational therapists Flannery Brown and Karisa Teindl at the Sardis Safeway in Chilliwack on Oct. 10, 2019 for the inaugural weekly one-hour of sensory-friendly shopping at the store. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress.

Chilliwack grocery store tries out sensory-friendly shopping

Sardis Safeway latest in chain to offer one hour once a week to help those on autism spectrum

Customers walking into the Sardis Safeway over a one-hour period on Oct. 10 immediately noticed something was different.

Many of the features of a normal grocery store experience were absent. No clanking carts, no “clean up in aisle three” announcements, no music playing.

Lights were dimmed by two thirds, scanner noises were reduced, deli slicers were turned off, and forklifts were not in use.

It was all part of a new program of so-called “sensory-friendly shopping” to make the experience of buying groceries more calming for individuals on the autism spectrum or those with mental health disorders or concussions.

The idea for Safeway first came to the Willowbrook store by the deli manager who is the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. Ashley Baresinkoff found out about a Sobey’s store in Nova Scotia offering sensory-friendly shopping so she wanted to bring it to B.C.

“When I do go shopping with my son, it’s a lot of stimulation, which for him is just overwhelming, and I know I’m not alone in this,” Baresinkoff said back in April when the Langley store began a two-month trial, once a week for one hour. “I wanted to see if sensory-friendly shopping was something we could try here,” she says, crediting the store management team for their enthusiastic support.”

• READ MORE: Sensory-friendly shopping comes to Langley

The idea was a hit.

“Langley had started with April and May, but the response was so good, that they have continued all along,” Sardis Safeway manager Corinna Ivey said. “Their responses are what have prompted all Safeways across B.C. to do it as well. We will be doing it weekly going forward.”

In Chilliwack the first day was Oct. 10 from 4 to 5 p.m., which will be the regular time, every Thursday.

Ivey said every store is picking their own day of the week and hour for sensory-friendly shopping, but it should be up and running at all Safeways in B.C. soon if not already.

“This will be a regular occurrence and something people can count on,” Ivey said.

On the first day, Ivey was in the lobby warning customers about why the lights were dimmed, and local occupational therapists Flannery Brown and Karisa Teindl were at a table by the door handing out information about sensory processing disorder.

Most customers coming through the doors seemed pleased by the experience of a calmer, quieter, less bright shopping experience.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Housing needs of Chilliwack are the focus of new survey

City of Chilliwack is gathering information about housing needs of residents now and down the line

Chilliwack’s Greg DeVries being inducted into Canada West Hall of Fame

The former sharpshooter led the University of Alberta to a pair of national basketball titles.

OPINION: Should Charter protection against cruel and unusual treatment be extended to corporations?

B.C. Civil Liberties Association intervenes in case to be heard by Supreme Court of Canada Wednesday

Free wellness event offers group meditation, reiki, healing at Tractorgrease in Chilliwack

It takes place this weekend featuring music, kombucha, traditional First Nations medicine and more

UPDATE: One dead after early morning fire in commercial trailer downtown Chilliwack

Chilliwack RCMP Serious Crime Unit on the scene on Victoria Avenue investigating

Victoria police arrest 12 anti-pipeline protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

Harry and Meghan should cover their own security costs: NDP heritage critic

The prince, Meghan Markle and their eight-month-old son Archie are reportedly staying at a mansion near Victoria

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

Pooches Jasper and Jake bring comfort to Abbotsford Police Department

Comfort dogs there for cuddles and play time when needed

One dead following pedestrian collision in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights

Incident occurred just after 7 a.m. on 24 Avenue near 188 Street

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Most Read