Time Goes By Reputation Rating: “Very Poor”
Memory Lapse at the End of the World

Elder-Friendly Stores

Thank you all for your lovely comments on yesterday's post about Time Goes By's poor reputation rating. It surely was not meant as a fishing expedition and I was surprised. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy. You're all just wonderful.

Aside from that, I thought I was playing blog hooky yesterday, but I did get to the grocery store and, as on every visit, was annoyed at the miserable lighting.

It's already bad enough that the nutritional information is printed so small you need a magnifying glass even if the lights were bright enough. But all three of the closest supermarkets are so dimly lit that it's hard to tell they're not nightclubs. I'm thinking of bringing a flashlight from now on.

That reminded me of a video I saw a long time ago about a German supermarket chain that, anticipating the burgeoning elder population, redesigned its stores with elders in mind. I tracked it down at YouTube and it's filled with good ideas. Take a look – it's from 2007:

As noted in the video, the redesign has paid off for the chain in the bottom line but I'd throw in that they are wrong about their new emphasis being more for elders than young people. All elder-friendly design is invariably useful for younger adults too.

According to an NPR story last week, a few retail outlets in the U.S. have adopted some ideas similar to those of the German grocery and it identified some additional issues that need addressing for elders such as slippery floors, heavy doors that can't be opened and blasting music.

Another useful idea are motorized carts. I've seen them in California and Maine, but so far not in my area here in Oregon. These are all good ideas, and maybe you've got some more.

It was disappointing to read at the end of the NPR story that the elder “expert” they interviewed said she would never use newly introduced senior discount cards:

"Well, I'm 55 years old,” [said Georganne Bender], “and there's no way that I'm a senior and I'm the kind of person that, I don't even want your discount if I have to have the senior citizen card."

Bah! She calls herself a “retail consultant,” is apparently advising on elder store issues and makes an ageist statement like that? Shame on her and shame on NPR for promoting such an attitude.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Cemeteries, Southern Style


That consultant woman is nuts! Around here, we get a discounted rate on public transit at 65 -- I'm looking toward those savings next year eagerly. I got my first "senior discount" at a hardware store at 62 and loved it!

Being a senior is a privilege, not a cave in which to hide.

So, in her mind, getting great discounts is a bad thing?


We decided long ago not to be bashful about asking for a senior discount. One way that's a bit of fun: "I know it's hard to believe, but we really are seniors. Do you have a senior discount?

We always use that line at Applebees, where they have a 10 percent discount, but don't advertise it.

The major grocery stores in Tucson all have electric carts. They will even provide a clerk to go with you to reach items on top shelves if you are unable to stand.

I don't need the clerk, but the electric cart has been a life saver for me. I think the hanging magnifying glass is a great idea.

Refusing to claim a senior discount even though she qualifies? Talk about shooting herself in the foot!! How utterly daft.

I have been so happy to receive my discount on movies. Although up here in the boondocks I dont go to movies as the nearest theater is 45 minutes away.

My folks, to save money, used very dim wattage bulbs in their lamps even unto the ages of 86 and 92. I need 100 watt bulbs. I read a lot. although they did too.

Those changes are good for everyone such as that step, I tall, 5'8" and have gotten stuff off the top shelves for women and men of all ages ever since my grocery shopping career began. Sometimes I can't reach items either. And the magnifying glass, magnificent.

My grocery store has a "drive-up" service that makes life easier for everyone who makes use of it. When you check out, they place the groceries into a special cart and wheel it to the covered, curbside, drive-up lane. Then you drive up and they load up.

Also, this brightly lighted store provides small shopping carts (and motorized carts) as well as the usual larger size. I much prefer the small carts, and I see other seniors using them as well.

The store also has automatic doors, wide-enough aisles, a bench near the check-out for customers, and no music, thank goodness.

It also features a small, open "restaurant" area for those who want to sit and sip their Starbucks or eat a Dairy Queen cone or sandwich. (Starbucks and Dairy Queen are both inside the grocery store.)

The store is so user-friendly overall that I buy my groceries there instead of saving money on food at the local, way-too-big, walk-a-mile-to-the-cereal-aisle "Super Walmart."

The German store shown in the video is certainly more "senior-friendly" than any I've ever shopped in, so I hope store designers here will catch on and make similar changes to our stores.

Maybe if we seniors start requesting changes, those changes will come more quickly. Can't hurt to try.

Bender doesn't appear to really understand her subject.

...and bravo to you for telling us about it too. Yes, we stopped shopping at Von's here because of the lighting. Henry's and Trader Joe's are lighter and you can see the merchandise. Best of all is an old store that used to belong to a big chain. Too small now for them, but we embrace it with even with their higher prices. They have what we need and we can see and hear it too.

I did a huge run today to the local discount grocery. Really saved & managed to get some really good buys on meat. But I fear I won't be going there much more. Just way too tiring & burdensome for me to do this anymore. The store is also not very elder friendly, altho'anyone working there will stop everything to give a hand. But I'm a little saddened because I can't do as much as I once did. Trying to avoid too many trips for groceries, but I'm not sure it's possible.

Good for Germany to treat their customers so well. Smart. Dee

I haven't noticed any problem with store lighting here in Houston but I sure would appreciate the step-ups (I'm just 5'4" & can no longer jump high enuf to snag stuff off top shelves.) My major problems are with my 93-year old mother who uses a walker. Grocery store aisles are generally ok but she simply cannot navigate department stores which have their aisles cluttered with tables and other merchandise displays.

The new Trader Joe's here in Hollywood is pretty good--aisles are wide, lighting is bright, staff responsive. Like all TJ's they do play fairly loud music, but it's mostly old rock and pop. I'm fine with shopping to the strains of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Bobby Darin--I sing along while I shop.

As for Ms. Bender--she reminds me of my late husband the first time he was offered a senior discount at the movies--he was offended. It's just vanity talking. A little ironic, given her profession, but she'll change her tune in a few years.

I just tried to leave a comment on the WBGH site in response to the ageist statement Ms. Bender made in the article. The station made it so difficult to leave a comment that I ended up having to write to the station regarding the inaccessibility of their comments function! I didn't say this, but it appears they are using the comments section to build their solicitations database by requiring mailing and phone info...I went ahead and shared the info and then I was STILL denied a field to leave a comment!! I have to go lie down I'm so steamed! Ha!

Anyway...the point I wanted to make is the importance of trying to educate and start conversations with people to help them identify the flaw in their perceptions. I THOUGHT that would be a good way to do that...oh well...

Ronni, what you need is a miner's hard hat with a lamp on the front to brighten things up a bit. And how about a very large magnifying glass like the one that Sherlock Holmes is always pictured with. You would probably draw some attention from your local store's manager if you went around looking like that.

Or you could always as to speak with the store manager and ask him/her if they carried miner's hats and extra large magnifying glasses ... and then let him/her know exactly why you need them !

Another option -- perhaps you could stand at the front entrance of the store for a day and offer to loan those items out to other elders as they entered the store as a gesture of good will.

I hate shopping in general, and fighting for the opportunity to spend my money someplace that is not shopper friendly makes no sense. We have motorized carts at our Target and the local chain grocery store. It is great if you can figure out how to drive the things. My mom had a bit of a challenge with that.
My grandmother lived in a small town. All she had to do was call the store and give them a list of what she needed, and the store delivered. There are a few grocery delivery options near here, but what did we do to lose service?

She's pretty stupid in my book to give up a discount. I had a friend once who had grey hair in her 40's. A restaurant gave her the senior discount and he got mad. How dumb was that? When I pointed that out to her, she decided I was right.

So far I'm managing fine in the traditional grocery stores where I shop, except that a step up to reach items on tall shelves would be super convenient (and would have been 50 years ago for us Short People). Still, the store is a good idea whose time has come in this country as well as in Germany.

As far as senior discounts, I recall being less than thrilled when I first became eligible at age 55 (which now seems impossibly young to be a senior!) almost 20 years ago. Now I have no problem at all with using the discounts, and I suspect the same will be true for Ms. Bender.

Last but not least, I was buried in work and didn't have time to comment on yesterday's post. I think TGB is a GREAT blog. I enjoy reading and responding to it. I can't imagine what the folks that rated it badly were smoking, but I've never heard of them anyway, so there! I have no plans to visit their website, and in any event we are in total disagreement about TGB.

I never pass up a chance to save a nickel -- it all adds up and I'm not rich.

Good idea on the flashlight but you know you'll become known as the crazy lady with the flashlight by the store clerks, don't you? :-)

Those carts look fantastic. I like the big, heavy carts to lean on, but by the time I've trekked all the aisles, my wrists and arms are so sore and tired. Another senior issue to solve!

Love that grocery store. I am short and have great difficulty reaching the top shelves in every store. Making things accessible--what a concept!!

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