Staff at Asda supermarket in St Leonards have transformed the shopping experience for a blind couple who are regular customers.
They have developed a special relationship with Mandy and Gary Robinson while providing help and support.
Mandy has been blind since birth and Gary lost his sight in his twenties because of a retinal detachment.
The store staff were quick to assist, pointing out special offers and new products and even helping out with recipes and cooking tips.
Mandy said: “They’re like a little community store – it’s the enthusiasm and willingness to help. The customer service is wonderful.
“We first came to the store in 2012 and it’s been absolutely marvellous – they help us during every part of the shop.”
Asda colleague, Lorna Dyson, who usually takes Mandy or Gary round the store, said: “They’re an inspiring couple – great fun and very outgoing. They go out to restaurants, shows, they go to the gym and go walking. They’re amazing.”
Mandy, 53, an audio typist has been married to Gary, 64, a now retired IT manager, for 17 years and they live in town with their guide dogs PJ and Opal.
She said: “After we’d been coming to the store for a few weeks I met Lorna. We got on well as we have similar interests and friend groups. She took me round a few times then asked if I would be happy to go round every Saturday with her and I said yes.
“So every Saturday we bring in our shopping list, and as well as our usual shopping, Lorna points out new products and offers, so we can get the best value on certain things.”
Lorna is so happy to be able to help Mandy and Gary and will even read from the label into a voice recorder, so if ever the pair is unsure of cooking instructions, they can refer back to Lorna’s notes when at home.
This high level of customer service extends all the way through to the checkout and bagging up of shopping, with Lorna overseeing their entire experience and with the help of colleague, Cassie Abley, sees the pair and their shopping into a taxi.
Mandy said: “If we don’t come in for some reason, Lorna rings us up and checks if we’re ok and if we need any help.
“When she’s away, or if we go in when she’s not there, other people step in to help us. Zack Partridge on the fish counter is so helpful – he can’t do enough. He knows what we want and gets it ready for us every week. Last year he sent us a lovely braille Christmas card.”
The whole store is happy to help the friendly couple and when Lorna is on annual leave, Cassie steps into the role of personal shopper. The couple have nothing but praise when it comes to the wider team with general store manager Darren Evans and colleague Barbara Stace getting a shout-out from the couple.
Gary said: “Being a blind person, you wouldn’t be aware of new products or offers unless people tell you about them and they’re very good with that. Sometimes you go in places and feel there’s a lack of enthusiasm to help you but the colleagues at this store they are friendly, cheerful, efficient and professional.”
Lorna, 59, has worked at the store since it’s opening in 2010. She said: “It all started one day when I was asked if I wanted to help out with an assisted shop. I met Mandy, we got on immediately and struck up a friendship.
“Sometimes Mandy and Gary come in together although normally it’s one or the other. I more or less know their shopping list off by heart now so I meet them at customer services and do their shop with them. We always have a laugh.
“As we approach the till I ring a taxi for them, put the shopping though the checkout, and colleagues carry the shopping to the taxi. I just think of it as doing my job.”