The forgotten market

As I drive through Chester, I love to sight see.  I like to look at the new shops opening and like that they all offer something a little different.  As I began to look at these new shopping opportunities though, I started to notice the user-friendliness to the older adult population.  Many of these shops sell items that this age group had in their homes in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.  What a great experience it would be for someone in their 80s to go shopping in these stores, reminisce about their own childhood, and perhaps buy an item or two to take home.  I started to observe that accessibility would be a significant issue.  I have noticed businesses with street parking without a very safe route to enter, no upper level access in multi-story buildings, difficult to read signage, and limited mobility once inside.  If someone in a wheelchair wanted to shop in some of these locations, it would be extremely difficult.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010), Chester, Virginia‚Äôs 65 years of age and older population makes up 11.2 percent of the total population.  Of this 11.2 percent, 6.5 percent are female.  These are the older adults that would frequent the local retail establishments.  Although these numbers may seem small, the impact can actually be much larger.  It is not uncommon to see three generations of family members shopping and dining together.  If a building is not easily accessible, there are now three potential customers lost (or at least the potential immediate revenue).

My recommendations would be to make sure that the entrance is easily accessible by car and by foot, make signage using contrasting colors for those individuals of any age that may have visual impairments, make the pathways through the aisles wide enough for better maneuverability.  A few minor adaptations like these could make a great day for an older adult out shopping. 


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