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Midland coffee shop takes strides to be more accessible

A Biggby Coffee Shop in Midland said it’s the first in the chain to install an adult sized changing table in a move to become more accessible.

Norma Psycher, the owner of two Biggby’s in Midland, said her shop on Eastman Road is bigger than most in the chain: This allowed for a full bathroom renovation to include an adult-sized changing table, and ample space for wheelchair accessibility.

“When we fold the changing table down into the open position, you could still move a wheelchair around and be able to access everything without the barrier of space,” Psycher said.

The new bathroom goes above and beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which disability experts say are not adequate enough for many people with disabilities.

“I've had a lot of people who said to me, ‘this is going to be my number one place. Now, when we're out and about, at least we know, we can stop here. So I'll be a customer for life,’ which is really exciting,” Psycher said.

Other Biggby’s have expressed interest in making similar efforts at their locations, through store layout options or employment opportunities.

“Growing up, everything was centered around sharing coffee with people,” Psycher said.

Psycher’s favorite memories with her mom often happened while sharing coffee, and she also met her husband at a coffee shop - A Biggby coffee shop.

“The idea of not allowing someone that experience really broke my heart, because I don't want somebody to have an obstacle (which keeps them from) having that shared experience with someone, and really having those pivotal moments that happen around coffee.”

She didn’t make the move expressly to increase sales, but Psycher said that may be an extra benefit to adding the changing table.

Her decision to make the bathrooms more wheelchair accessible followed a conversation with Iris Mehler, a disability activist in Midland. After talking with Mehler, she said the accessibility efforts were a “no brainer”.

The renovation cost about $3,500, and Psycher said it was “absolutely” worth it.

“She did it all as a young women intrapreneur with a small budget without asking anyone for help,” Mehler said. “If she can do it, everybody else can. There is no more space and room for excuses.”

Within the next five years, Mehler said she hopes to see at least 10 adult-sized changing tables in the Midland area.

Stephanie Schlichter, the Vice President of Operations at Biggby, said Psychers research and proposal was “extremely thoughtful and purposeful” and a “step in the right direction” for the company.

“Biggby Coffee as an organization is always looking for ways to make the store design and layout more inclusive,” Schlichter said. “We value the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that our franchise owners continue to bring forth and we hope to continue to offer a welcoming and loving environment inside our stores.”

Jill Harrington is a junior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and is interning in Midland this summer working for WCMU and the Midland Daily News.