According to the Urban Dictionary, Vertically Challenged is described as “Someone who is short”, and also “Someone who thinks they will grow, but probably won’t.” I don’t think I’ll be any taller than I am right now, so I have accepted the fact that I am Petite which is described at 5’3″. I’m not anywhere near that, but let us continue. Many of my friends can talk to me eye to eye and share the same challenges I do in our day to day world. Ok, maybe not that many, but a few of us are around 5′.
Shopping should not be a difficult task, especially in the petite section of our local department store, but it is. Having double rods for blouses, tops, sweaters, etc. maximizes inventory space, but doesn’t make the clothing accessible to the petite person. The genius who thought this was a good idea was not thinking of the needs of the customers who shop in this department. I have become quite good at pulling things off hangers if I can’t find a salesperson or another shopper to help me.
Shopping in food stores is also a test in creativity. For example, vertical freezers might be efficient but not for reaching things on the top shelves. I have had to open the door, step on the “curb,” grab on to a lower shelf and try to reach an item on the upper shelf, hoping the door doesn’t close on me. Worst case scenario: I fall in the freezer because my hand stuck to the shelf.
Just a little empathy by retail store designers would go a long way in helping the petite shopper have a more enjoyable experience. Offering grabbers to shoppers to be used while in the store would be a very good idea. But, unless they are attached to the shelves with heavy anchor chain, we all know they will disappear in a heartbeat.