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Trader Joe’s Partners With Life Skills App for Autistic Shoppers

Retailer is 1st grocery store chain to partner with MagnusCards
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Trader Joe’s Partners With Life Skills App for Autistic Shoppers
Trader Joe’s is offering five TJ’s-related Card Decks within the app to focus on a different aspect of the shopping experience.

As we enter Autism Acceptance Month and celebrate World Autism Day on April 2, Trader Joe’s is collaborating MagnusCards by Magnusmode, a free app dedicated to making the world a more accessible place for people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Trader Joe’s is the first grocer to partner with the app in an effort to make the grocery shopping experience more inclusive.

Magnusmode was founded by Nadia Hamilton, who grew up helping her brother Troy, who has autism, complete everyday tasks like brushing his teeth and dressing for school. To lessen his anxiety and support his independence, she created hand-drawn, step-by-step guides that he was able to follow and re-enact. Back then, Hamilton’s guides were simple crayon drawings on paper, but today, through the Magnusmode app, they're now digitalized “Card Decks” known as MagnusCards.

The MagnusCards app guides users through tasks and activities that might otherwise feel challenging or overwhelming, like grocery shopping. As a new partner, Trader Joe’s is offering five TJ’s-related Card Decks within the app. Using a proven method of instruction (applied behavior analysis), visual cues, and step-by-step instructions (with optional audio enhancement), each deck focuses on a different aspect of the Trader Joe’s shopping experience. Examples include “Checking Out Your Items” and “Sensory Experiences in the Store.”

“Grocery stores can be challenging places for individuals with autism, but the basic necessity of buying food and the simple pleasure of selecting what you plan to eat is vital for all people,” said Nadia Hamilton, founder and president of Buffalo, New York-based Magnusmode. “Trader Joe’s MagnusCards provide support for a critical skill set that everyone needs, and a fun experience that everyone deserves.”

“Creating a positive and inclusive shopping experience is our utmost priority, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers this wonderful tool,” added Trader Joe’s spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to further support our customers and their caregivers.”

MagnusCards by Magnusmode is available for download in the Apple App store and Google Play. The Trader Joe’s MagnusCards can be found in the app’s “Shopping” section.

Earlier in the year, Trader Joe's revealed a three-pronged effort to ramp up its diversity and inclusion credibility. The retailer assembled a "high-level group of Trader Joe’s leaders, including our chairman and CEO, president and COO, and president of stores, to come together weekly to develop and oversee the implementation of significant actions we are taking and will continue to take to demonstrate our commitment" to diversity and inclusion.

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s is No. 28 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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