This post has been brewing for the last two years but I’m finally about to boil over. I am sick of shops that are not accessible! I don’t mean little stores that have narrow doorways or limited space; I accepted two years ago that I’d no longer be able to get into those. I even waved goodbye to my favourite little Italian coffee shop as we could no longer get through the door once I moved from a tandem buggy to a side by side. I mean big department stores that have the space, but set up the shop floor in a way which makes my life hell!
Since having twins I’ve been forced to limit the number of shops I visit. In my local town, I can get into Next, M&S, BHS, TK Max, Wilkinsons, Argos and Debenhams, and that’s more or less it.
Lately, the bigger stores seem to be making little changes that are making things harder for me at the checkouts. First it was Debenhams. They created a narrow walkway to the checkout made of those heavy metal posts and a strip of rope – like you get in the post office and bank. In order to get through it I had to move the posts myself to make the space bigger. Then it was Argos – I waited patiently for the slow automatic doors to open, only they stopped about three inches too narrow for my buggy to fit through. I had to manually force them wider myself, despite looking into the store in the hope a member of staff would come to help. (This may just have been a temporary fault with the doors – I did report it to the staff inside so I’m hoping it won’t do this again).
Then I had a nightmare in TK Max. Much as I love the shop (because it’s so big and easy to get around), getting to the checkout has started to become more difficult. They have a long queuing system where one side is posts with rope to keep you in line and the other is a long panel of toys, food and bits and bobs they want to tempt you to buy as you wait. It’s about 10m long so it’s not something you can quickly swing past as you go to pay. As the narrow walkway is the width (exactly) of my double buggy, it means whoever is seated on the side of the shelves has a field day grabbing at everything. On Saturday there was nobody waiting, so I thought I could just whizz straight through, using speed to stop the boys from grabbing. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised there was a lady actually shopping from the shelves. I got half way down the walkway before I realised, and as it was so narrow I couldn’t pass her and she couldn’t escape. I patiently stood and waited. T1 saw his chance and grabbed at the shelf. Instead of taking a packet of helpless pink sweets, he went straight for the hard stuff and pulled off a 1m piece of metal shelving and started to wave it around! I grabbed it off him straight away, and the lady, seeing my predicament, asked me to back up all the way so that she could get out and let me pass.
I almost hoped that T1 would pull everything off the shelf on our way past just to prove a point, but unfortunately he didn’t. I told the lady at the till that I’d left a big chunk of their shelf on the floor and she just said it was fine.
But it’s not fine! I hate the stress of trying to get through shops. So many shops aren’t even single-buggy friendly, let alone twin-friendly. And imagine if you were in a wheelchair and weren’t able to stand up to force the automatic doors to open a bit wider, or to move the posts to get to the checkout. Being in a wheelchair must be a million times more frustrating as there is no end in sight to it – at least I’m able to shop occasionally without the boys, and one day they won’t need a juggernaut to transport them.
Earlier this week I actually got stuck in WHSmiths because they’ve added lots of little displays down the narrow aisles. I tried to get a magazine and failed, leaving the shop in tears of stress. I’m never going in there again with my buggy. Ever.
Come on shops, please think about ALL of your customers when you decide to rearrange your stores. My money used to get spread across town, now it’s limited to the handful of shops that are the most accessible. I’m not the only one with access requirements, so at the very least making your shop floors accessible to more people will increase your revenue!