customers checking out at grocery store with fumes in the air

#Asthmaproblems: When They Rearrange the Store on You

I do my best to avoid the cleaning products aisle when grocery shopping. Fortunately, as I do not do the majority of shopping, this is a choice I can make. Cleaning products are an asthma and headache trigger to me, so I do my best to avoid what I can to steer clear of that potential double-whammy.

Recently, the grocery section of my nearby Real Canadian Superstore (which goes just by Superstore colloquially, for the record) rearranged. This is not only problematic because they removed the middle gap in the aisles allowing you to free yourself from the confines of the inner aisles a little easier (wherein now you get trapped because you aka I no longer know where things are!), but also because they made a very not-asthma-friendly move.

AsthmaProblems: When they rearrange the store on you

We typically check out at the self-checkouts. On busy days, the line extends toward the aisles. Except for, excuse me Superstore, WHY DID YOU MOVE THE FREAKING LAUNDRY PART OF THE AISLE TO THE FRONT END NEAR SELF CHECKOUT?

grocery store aisle of cleaning products

Also, “air care” is the biggest lie I have ever heard, given it is code for chemicals you spray in the air to make it smell better. GOODNESS, JUST BAKE COOKIES, PEOPLE. They at least are not (typical) asthma triggers! (And also delicious.)

So now, in order to go to the self-checkout, I exist in a stage of half-breathing, turned awkwardly not in the direction of the line to maximize my “airspace". The unfortunate thing is that while the cashiers know what they are doing, I still continue to find self-checkout faster.

What does it take to make a more asthma-friendly store?

Some stores are meant to be not asthma friendly—like, you know, the garden center if you have allergies or Bath & Bodyworks/The Body Shop/those sorts of stores. While there is little if any way to contain the scented aisle to itself, stores can be more asthma-friendly by placing these sections in avoidable areas to shoppers—for instance, right now, this very Superstore has its shampoo/conditioner and hair products in a front corner of the store, easily avoidable (but generally an area the scents do not overtake the entire radius). The corner approach would be easy enough to implement for the cleaning items too—heck, they could even go in the same area and just call it cleaning products, regardless if you’re cleaning your clothes, dishes, and countertops or hair, face, hands, and body.

While I understand it’s nearly impossible and certainly impractical to isolate the fragrant products as much as I may like or need, considering store arrangement can certainly be helpful. For instance, how many department stores have you been to where you have no choice but to enter past the perfume counter—typically obnoxiously located by the mall entrance? Again, placing these products in a more avoidable area could make a huge difference for many people!

Not only now do I have to be confused when at the grocery store due to the rearrangement of random items I want, I have to keep my guard up to ensure I avoid the items I don’t want to be exposed to! It’s always something with asthma, isn’t it?!

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