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PCC quiet hours

Fidgets and other support are available in PCC sensory kits.

PCC makes shopping with autism or sensory disorders a little easier

Stores offer quiet hours and sensory kits

Taking a sensory-challenged child to the market can be a fraught situation. Between the whir of floor buffering, elevator music streaming overhead, bright lighting, and staff refilling shelves, grabbing a few essentials can turn into an uncomfortable meltdown —one that’s painful for parents and sometimes torturous for kids.

PCC launches quiet hours

PCC Community Markets hopes to make the task of shopping as a family a little easier for those with kids who have sensory challenges or autism spectrum disorder.

This month, the co-op launched its “Quiet Shopping Hours” program, a one-hour, sensory-friendly, and low-stimulated environment shopping window. The store has designated Sundays from 8 to 9 a.m. as the quiet hour. During that time, all PCC stores will dim the lights, mute music, reduce announcements, and put shelf restocking on pause. 

PCC has 15 stores in the Puget Sound area, including Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, and Seattle. It first piloted the quiet shopping hour program in 2023 to commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Lessening the overwhelm

“Grocery stores can be overwhelming for those with sensory processing issues, such as bright lights or overpowering smells,” says Kate Hudson, PCC’s communications director. “The co-op is offering this program to support neurodiverse community members. We can do simple things to mitigate some of those uncomfortable experiences for our members and shoppers.”

Hudson stresses that the real work of quiet hour belongs to PCC staff: “There aren’t specific rules for shoppers,” Hudson says. But, “some of the operational changes for the quiet shopping hours include no vacuuming produce displays, no cart returns inside the store or foyer, and a general effort to perform work duties as quietly as possible.”

Need more support while shopping?

The co-ops support neurodiverse shoppers big and small doesn’t stop with quiet ours. If your child needs a little more support to enjoy a store outing, check out PCC’s free sensory kits for use while shopping. Kits include ear plugs, fidget spinners, and, as Hudson describes, “squishy things.” Request a kit at the self-checkout.

Read more:

Labeling children with special needs? The pros and cons

What not to say to a parent with a child on the autism spectrum

‘Crossing the River’: A memoir of a mother’s love, loss and healing

BILLY Footwear is fun, fashionable — and functional for those with special needs

 

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for NestingInstinctsSeattle.com and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at Compasswriters.com.