Shine On

Shopping centre tests out “fast lane” after 10-year-old girl complains about slow walkers

It's a simple concept: walk like a car.

Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, England, is the first mall in the U.K. — or anywhere, that we know of — to introduce shopping lanes: one for fast shoppers, another for dawdlers.

Meadowhall Shopping Centre's fast and slow lanes. (Image via Meadowhall's Facebook page)

The lanes were inspired by a 10-year-old shopper's letter. As part of a school letter-writing exercise, Chloe Nash-Lowe complained to the mall that she was often stuck behind slowpokes:

"I am incredibly disappointed by people walking around your shopping centre - it annoys me so bad I want to scream," she wrote.

"You should stop people walking slow as people are in a rush for work and this could cause people being late. It is dangerous because if someone bumped into you that person will fall over."

She asked, "Will you ever tell people not to walk slow? If you do this for me I will be delighted – please do it."

Mall bosses read Chloe's letter, saw a great PR opportunity, and, to Chloe's surprise, sprung into action.

"I want to thank Chloe for taking the time to write in and share her views with us – we love to hear feedback from our younger shoppers," says shopping centre director Darren Pearce.

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"The Meadowhall team liked Chloe's idea so much that we have decided to trial an overtaking lane for fast walkers on the malls — helping them to get where they want to be on time. Let's see how it goes."

The shopping centre is asking for customer feedback on its Facebook page as officials consider whether or not they'll keep the new lanes for the long haul.

Whether the shopping centre keeps the lanes or not, the moral of the story is clear: kids have a voice.

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Earlier this week, we shared a Connecticut teen's concern about gender-specific Happy Meal toys. McDonald's listened, and vowed to ensure that kids are offered the toys of their choice, without any gender classification attached to them.

"We take your concern seriously," McDonald’s chief diversity officer Patricia Harris wrote in response to Antonia Ayres-Brown's letter. "It is McDonald's intention and goal that each customer who desires a Happy Meal toy be provided the toy of his or her choice, without any classification of the toy as a 'boy' or 'girl' toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender."

In December 2012, in response to 13-year-old McKenna Pope's online petition, Hasbro promised to release a "gender-neutral" Easy-Bake Oven.

And in July of that year, Seventeen magazine editors vowed to stop airbrushing faces or body shapes in response to 14-year-old Julia Bluhm's petition.

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"Seventeen listened! They're saying they won't use Photoshop to digitally alter their models! This is a huge victory, and I'm so unbelievably happy," Bluhm wrote in a message to her supporters.

Other great company responses to kids:

LEGO responded awesomely when seven-year-old Luka Apps lost a minifigure.

Walker Greentree, 6, wrote a letter asking the head of US Joint Special Ops if a Navy SEAL is quieter than a ninja. He got the answer he was looking for.

And when a four-year-old boy asked NASA for a little homework help, he got a 10-minute video response.