This past Sunday, the J.C. Penney store at Timber Creek Crossing in Dallas, Texas, held its first shopping event for families with autistic children. The private, two-hour, back-to-school event was developed with help from the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), which also sent notices to parents, letting them know about the special occasion.
All of the J.C. Penney employees who worked that morning went through special training, so they could best assist with the needs of shoppers with autism. Additionally, the store was operated with 50% less lighting and no music playing. Employees dressed in neutral colors and were instructed to wear no perfume.
Store general manager, Jay Tollett, volunteered his Timber Creek Crossing store to serve as the flagship store for the event. He told the Dallas News that he hopes both that the shopping event becomes an annual event, and that the program gets expanded to more J.C. Penney stores around the country.
Inclusion and diversity has long been one of Penney’s core principles, and the department store chain was recognized in 2014 for representing diversity in the models for its “When It Fits You Feel It” campaign. The company has stated previously that part of its belief in “valuing diversity means the inclusion of all our associates’ and customers’ differences as part of our overall business strategy.” J.C. Penney management is looking into the possibility of developing this special shopping event further, as a permanent part of its corporate inclusion and diversity program.
The program is similar to one we reported about a “Quiet Hour” at ASDA Living in the U.K. a few months ago. We’re thrilled to see these initiatives spread.
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