MS, Christmas shopping and mobility issues

7 December 2023

Antoinette against a navy blue background with snow graphics.

Antoinette was ready to ditch the online retailers this Christmas, in favour of shopping local. Hoping for an accessible journey, she boarded her mobility scooter and set off in search of undiscovered gems.

“Shop local!” is a slogan that I am fully behind. Like most towns, mine has lost several good shops during the past year. I think that it will keep happening if we keep shopping online.

Rather than going straight to the big online retailers, I thought I would find my Christmas presents in town this year.

I have my wheelchair. But, not having a car means that I needed to get out the trusty mobility scooter to carry my Christmas prezzies home!

We have a late-night shopping event each year, which could be very jolly.

Picture roast chestnuts and mulled wine.

Sadly, over the years, it has become a plastic nightmare of overpriced children’s fairground rides and lit up wands.

However, the roads are closed off, stalls line the high street and shops are open late. For the first time since my kids were little, I went in to soak up the atmosphere and do my shopping.

I had a look at all the stalls as I went down the high street. A few years ago, there were craft stalls with lovely handmade jewellery or individual pieces. But this year we mainly had food stalls or alcohol vendors.

With nothing to rifle through and nowhere to find unexpected treasures, I set my sights on the shops.

We have several little independent gift shops. They’re all very tempting. But they’re all very inaccessible.

You can imagine the scene. At the doorways, you find tightly packed shelves or steep steps.

There was no chance on earth that I could get a scooter inside. 

I have a limited number of steps that I can take. Plus, I can only stand for about two minutes before my back spasms kick in.

So, navigating the tiny entrances was mission impossible for me. It may have helped if they had a chair that I could sit in, but sadly that wasn’t an option.

I know what you’re thinking. What about charity shops?

They’re always good to poke around in. You often find that one thing. You know, the present that you never would’ve thought of, or the gift that would be perfect for a loved one.

Our town has an excellent array of charity shops. Unfortunately, they’re not so excellent for accessibility. 

One of them has a step and the others have shelves so tightly packed, that I wouldn’t be able to squeeze through with my mobility scooter.

It was time to recalculate.

I spy a few independent shops with lots of space - the more expensive or boutique style places. Incidentally they’re the ones offering a free glass of mulled wine to anyone who pops in.

Who could argue with that? Well, my wallet might quibble. Unfortunately, these vendors are slightly out of my price range these days.

There goes my plan for supporting my independent shops.

You can’t say that I didn’t try, right?

Instead, I set sail for a few of the bigger retailers. I must say that many of them are much better set up for accessibility. I was free to enter, move around and pick up gifts.

Although it’s not what I want to be giving, my loved ones will have to be happy with some chocolate or a bath set this year.

“Shop local!” they said

“I tried." I said.