I was shopping in Mandee (a clothing store) yesterday with my older daughter when we encountered a dressing room situation. The dressing rooms are very tiny and my daughter must be seated to try on clothes so I asked to use the accessible dressing room and was told it was currently being used for storage so it was unavailable. At first I let it go and my daughter went into one of their other dressing rooms but as I saw her struggling I felt the need to address the issue with store management.

The first employee I spoke with told me she was from another store and could not help me; the second told me the same. The third very young lady said she was from that store but was just the acting manager because the manager was on vacation. I explained my daughter’s situation along with a very short lesson on the ADA, Americans with Disability Act. To this employee’s credit she apologized and immediately began to remove the bags, boxes and other storage material that was occupying the accessible dressing room so that eventually my daughter was able to move into that room to continue trying on clothes. My real concern here is that the acting manager explained to me that she didn’t know about the ADA or issues of accessibility and that she had been in many other store locations that used the accessible dressing room similarly.

Because the employee did respond so quickly and appropriately, we continued to shop and walked out of the store with hundreds of dollars of clothes but what about if she had responded differently? My daughter and I would have certainly walked out immediately (no purchase). I wonder how much revenue Mandee and other retailers like them have lost due to issues like this, and perhaps without even realizing it. And, think of the even greater potential loss if someone was to file a legal claim for being out of compliance with the ADA.

So what’s the answer? Make ADA/store-related training mandatory for every employee before you allow them to work in the stores; perhaps even provide some disability etiquette and awareness training as well (the looks we got from some of the employees were most inappropriate). Also, re-think the incredible revenue generation opportunity of marketing to women and teens that have a disability. This segment of the population is the largest and fastest growing minority marketing in the world with the same interests as their non-disabled peers and the discretionary dollars to spend. Contact Springboard today to learn how to easily get started. It’s just not that difficult and it’s great for business.