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Ali and her friends, Rob and Phoebe, who are all vision impaired, say they like setting goals and enjoy a good challenge. Being let loose with two guide dogs in tow in the ‘One and Only’ Chadstone Shopping Centre was one to be met head on.
Ali said: “I put this idea to some of my sighted friends and they said that we were crazy, as it was also school holiday time, one of the busiest at the Centre.”
Rob said that he had not been to Chadstone as a vision impaired person. ”Our goal for the day was to catch public transport and to have a successful and fun time shopping,” he said.
When ringing Chadstone to see if there was any type of on-site assistance available, Rob was pleased to hear about a Butler service - a newly created offering that started just 2 weeks prior.
Rob said: “It was perfect timing. Lorraine, our concierge was fantastic. She was very knowledgeable about all the stores and described in great detail each shop. My shopping companions really appreciated hearing about the style, colour and sizes of clothing. We all relished the opportunity to sit down and discuss our experience and our suggestions on how to make shopping at Chadstone an even better one.”
In terms of getting there, Ali consulted Travellers Aid for bus and train times, which helped her and Rob navigate to Southern Cross station and transition to a bus, which delivered them 20 metres from the shopping centre entry.
Ali said: “After meeting up with Phoebe, our 3 hour shopping spree with Concierge, Lorraine went so quickly we were hoping for Dr. Who’s time machine to take us back to the start. Lorraine’s audio description was outstanding, as the three of us have different needs.”
Ali concluded by saying: “Sinead and Lee from Chadstone Centre Management really listened to our suggestions about having doggie toileting areas in the Centre; and making the butler service NDIS friendly. It was such a positive experience and I would suggest to anyone to give this service a go to make their shopping trip stress free.”