Dimmed lights, less crowds, free Starbucks coffee and no Christmas music. Sounds like a holiday shopping experience most people might want to take advantage of.
A Target in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is hosting such a shopping experience, but it isn’t just open for everyone. They’re opening early on Saturday to help shoppers who identify on the autism spectrum, according to the Mighty.
Autism involves significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, often exacerbated by crowds, loud noises and bright lights. About one in 68 children are born on the autism spectrum, according to 2012 statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
So the Lancaster Target partnered with Wellspan Philhaven, which provides behavioral healthcare for adults and children in central Pennsylvania, to open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday to make shopping a little easier on people who are autistic, or parents of children with autism. It is not a company-wide initiative, and a Target spokesperson told the Mighty that “we empower our store leaders to make decisions that help meet the needs of the guests they serve.”
“The store leader of our Lancaster East store worked with his team and local community partners to create a welcoming shopping event for his guests on the autism spectrum and we applaud his efforts,” the statement reads. “We don’t have plans to roll these events out company-wide, but are always looking for new ways to further enhance our guests’ shopping experience.”
In February of this year, Target unveiled Caroline’s Carts – shopping carts with large seats in the front that were designed to accomodate adults or older children with special needs. At least one Caroline Cart is available at all Target’s major locations.