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.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nights of illusion coming to Harrison

Magician Nigel Harrison will be bringing his magic show to the Harrison Lake Hotel this month

No dramatic increase for water, sewer fees in Agassiz secondary suites

Kent had considered increasing secondary suite fees to match that of single-family residences

Bizarre ‘hole punch cloud’ forms over Chilliwack

Several people posted images of the odd formation, which is scientifically known as a cavum

New playground surface possible for Agassiz’s Schep Park

The District of Kent will be applying for two grants to cover the $90K project

Christmas Seals campaign helps British Columbians breathe easier

One in five Canadians have lung disease such as COPD or asthma

Agassiz’s Dickens Tea sells out for seventh year

The annual holiday event saw visitors enjoy high tea and historic talks

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

B.C. patients wait 41% longer than national average to see a walk-in doctor: Medimap

The longest wait time was found in Sidney, B.C., where patients waited an average of 180 minutes

10,000 affordable rentals a year needed to tackle Metro Vancouver housing crisis: report

The report focused on building government-funded housing, rather than relying on the private sector

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Most Read