British Columbia

Shhh. You're shopping too loud. Nelson, B.C., store turns down the volume

A grocery store in Nelson, B.C., has introduced shopping on Sunday nights for customers who require calm surroundings. 

Sunday evening quiet hours aimed at helping people with medical conditions, introverted personalities

Shoppers at Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, B.C., can now enjoy sensory-friendly shopping on Sunday evenings. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

For some, grocery shopping can be sensory overload — there's music playing, machines whirring, cashiers and customers chatting. To remedy that, a grocery store in Nelson, B.C. has implemented sensory-friendly shopping on Sunday nights to create a safe environment for customers who require calm surroundings. 

"I think we underestimate sometimes how many people would appreciate a little bit more quiet in their lives," said David Reid, marketing and communications manager at the Kootenay Co-op.

"So the opportunity to take care of some core, important errands and at the same time enjoy some peace and quiet has been really well received."

From 7:30 to 9 p.m. every Sunday in the Southern Interior B.C. community, the overhead music will be turned off, blenders will be silenced and staff will minimize engagement with shoppers, unless they're asked for help. 

"While lots of people like to have a lively, bustling atmosphere when they shop, there are plenty of people who don't," Reid told Radio West host Sarah Penton. 

The goal is to make grocery shopping a pleasant experience for people who need low-sensory situations, such as people recovering from concussions, those who have autism spectrum disorder and people who are just generally introverted and prefer to shop without worrying about chatting with customer service staff.    

This idea stemmed from a customer who contacted the store to let staff know she had a medical condition that made it difficult to shop during regular business hours, when the store was busy and loud. Staff decided to try this sensory-friendly shopping time to help her and other shoppers. 

They tested the idea for the first time on July 14, and Reid said it went over well with customers. 

Reid said those who can't make it during the designated quiet shopping hours should shop early in the morning, or closer to closing time in the evening when the store is less busy. 

"When you're in the store and there aren't as many people, and it's not as noisy and there's not as much happening, it is definitely a different experience," he said.

"It's a great way to get your shopping done."

With files from Radio West

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