Kept in the Dark

October 30, 2019By Behind the Shelf Blog

by Dave Wendland

During a recent GMDC-sponsored industry event, Retail Tomorrow, a unique opportunity was presented to the approximate 90 participants. It was a dinner event like no other and something I have reflected on and shared with many.

The event was sponsored by IMS Trading and its founder, Isaac Shapiro. IMS Trading is parent to brands such as Cleanlogic Bath & Body Care, Fresh Drop Odor Preventor, Practical Matter, Scrub Strong, Blue Drops, and IMS the Brand. A portion of proceeds from each brand goes to a charity that Isaac set up in 2006 to honor his mother who has been blind since the age of 7, The Inspiration Foundation (IF). IF is a nonprofit organization committed to providing adults with severe vision loss adaptive technology to help them advance in the professional world.

IMS Trading also incorporates functional Braille on its packaging and various messages to demonstrate the company’s support for advancing the lives of the blind and visually impaired. The firm’s goal is to create opportunities for blind individuals to gain employment, especially since 70% are unemployed and living in poverty. Shapiro has discovered that most companies do not know there is adaptive technology available for the blind that may allow them to be able to work at their company.candle in darkness

The dinner, titled “Dining in the Dark,” treated guests to a four-course meal at the Hampshire House restaurant – which resides atop the famous Boston-based Cheers’ pub on Beacon Street. Donning an eye mask that was so opaque that no hint of light was apparent, the meal began. Merely using instinct and whatever memory of the silverware’s placement on the table, course after course was served and the evening ensued.

Although I made rather futile attempts to locate items on the various plates that were presented, I also realized that table manners were optional as I began to feel with my hands and discover the food on my plate. The textures of the food (from couscous to scallops, from slivered carrots to chocolate-covered strawberries) became more apparent as the evening progressed. And I found myself transforming from awkwardly uncomfortable to amazingly aware. (Although I’m certain I spilled more food than made it into my mouth and my parents would have been appalled at my lack of decorum.)

As it turns out, the experience was not only invigorating for the taste buds; over a prolonged period of time it has been documented, lack of exposure to a primary sense actually rewires the brain in a process known as cross-modal neuroplasticity. Such was the case for me. I became keenly attuned to the conversation at the table, the sounds of the wait staff hustling and bustling nearby, and the aromas that filled the air.

I wish to thank IMS Trading’s Isaac Shapiro and Mike Ghesser for hosting a life-changing experience. After finishing this truly one-of-a-kind dinner, all I could think of when I removed my blindfold was how grateful I am for my sight.