EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) — A local woman has started a pilot shopping program for families who struggle with taking their small children with special needs to the mall.

Melissa Oliveri works at Polarn O. Pyret, a children’s clothing store  in Edina. Her 6-year-old son is autistic. Shopping with children can be a struggle for anyone, but when trying to take her kindergartener to the mall or a store it became very stressful. That’s why she wanted to help parents like her.

“I know there are other parents out there who deal with this, and I thought, ‘Why not let families have the opportunity to come in when the mall is quieter?'” Oliveri said.

Polarn O. Pyret in Edina’s Galleria is launching the program, called One-on-One. It is a private, by-appointment shopping program that enables families with children who may benefit from special accommodations to shop privately outside store hours.

To launch the new One-on-One program, Polarn O. Pyret will be hosting an event on Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Galleria’s West Atrium.

Partners in the program include The Autism Society of Minnesota, Fraser and PACER. The event will be hosted by best-selling author Donna Erickson and author Sylvia Grubb, who wrote “Grandparenting a Child with Autism,” will be in attendance. Other partners include Venture Photography, Creative Kidstuff, St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development, and People’s Organic.

The event is open to the public and will include fashion presentations, sensory-friendly toy demonstrations, a photo booth, a raffle with tickets to attend a sensory-friendly performance at the Children’s Theater of Minnesota, and fun giveaways.

Families interested in the new program can call 952-225-3154 to schedule an appointment, or click here to learn more.

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