Kootenay Co-op has begun offering sensory friendly hours for customers who have difficulty shopping in loud, busy environments.
Music will be turned off and some machines will take a break Sunday evenings from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
David Reid, the co-op’s marketing and communications manager, said the store can’t do anything about its lighting or timed sprinklers in the produce section, but staff will keep a low profile during that time.
“Normally our customer service approach is to be super friendly and engaging and start conversations with people. So we’re not doing that,” said Reid. “We’re letting people just shop in peace. We’re obviously responding to requests by not being quite so engaging.”
Sensory friendly shopping has been adopted at some grocery stores across Canada. Reid said the suggestion to adopt the quiet time came from Tashia Weeks, a woman suffering from a severe fatigue illness who the Star profiled in May.
Reid said Sunday evenings made sense because the store is generally quiet during that time.
“One of my co-workers here said, ‘Oh, when I had a concussion that would have helped me.’ So just recognizing there are people with different needs in this community and creating some space for everyone to be part of the co-op life.”