On Shopping Carts

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This post is about a cart, basket, buggy, trolley, carriage, trundler, barrae, coohudder, bascart, and wagon – and all of these may be preceded by grocery, shopping, and supermarket. For me, it’s a grocery cart. Then again (in my mind), the same cart in a different store could be a shopping cart or just a cart.

Long-time readers here know that I enjoy playing golf. While golf carts have a different application than carts at the grocery, I enjoy this 30-second commercial from the past that combines those two thoughts.


Back at the store and regardless of terminology, grocery carts haven’t been around forever. Sylvan Goldman, a Oklahoma City grocery owner, invented this wheeled apparatus in 1937. Before then, shoppers used a hand-carrying basket. Goldman’s idea had a simple purpose – allow shoppers to buy more! Have you noticed a grocery cart looks like a big basket (without handles) on wheels?

Having gone through various design changes since Goldman’s first edition, carts during my youth were the basically same from store to store (well, other than the feature identifying the store). Through the years, their size has increased to reinforce the belief that size matters. On one hand, this is a contradiction because people eat outside the home more.

On the other hand, today’s grocery stores are larger, offer more products, and some include clothing, home goods, hardware, sporting goods, and lawn & garden. Therefore the cart must be large enough to contain canned vegetables, milk, cereal, pasta, a toaster oven, a laundry hamper, package of underwear, a set of socket wrenches, a flower pot, an ornamental shrub, and a bag of mulch.

Through the years, I’ve been the primary grocery shopper in our home – so, I notice shopper behaviors as well as their carts. Store aisles are typically wide enough for two carts to carefully pass – but not much more. After all, stores must maximize space for stuff to buy!

Given the tight quarters, I’ve consider the idea that shoppers should pass a grocery cart operating test before being allowed to use one. For instance, shoppers should never stop the cart on one side of the aisle, and then stand beside the cart while analyzing shelf products on the opposite side. Never block an aisle. Never!

From Wikipedia

I’ve often thought that grocery should hire plain-clothed cart police to issue citations for poor cart management. Then again, that would be effective only if all stores participated with equal scrutiny. Other times I wonder if I should carry a prod to shock people for improper cart management. Clear the aisle, here comes the crazy man with the stick!

As I think about my primary grocery store, they offer full-sized carts, mini-carts (for shoppers with a short list), and two sizes of hand-carrying baskets. Battery-operated riding carts for elderly and the disabled are a great addition – but should operators be subject to standards by passing a test or attending a class?

Sean Dreilinger via Flickr Creative Commons

Oh wait – there are more carts! How about the carts the size of a stretched limo because they have a car attached to the front so a kid can ride while the parent shops. Of course, this is done to entertain the child so they don’t disrupt other shoppers with loud squalls. However, ever notice how much space those thing require to turn the corner from one aisle to the next?

If the limos aren’t bad enough, how about he miniature carts for a kid to push around. Beyond the “how cute” aspect, what the hell do they know about cart etiquette? Then again – the price we pay for another squalling-prevention technique.

Unfortunately, stores won’t require a shopping cart operating license – nor hire a team of undercover shopping cart gestapo – and I won’t be taking a shocking device with me to the store. But, at least I got this heavy burden off my chest – not that my message will do any good for society because two past posts (one and two) about grocery carts and shoppers didn’t change behaviors.

On the positive side, grocery carts can be a source of amusement – as Exhibit A below shows.

65 thoughts on “On Shopping Carts

  1. Exactly well outlined Frank. Im the primary shopper too. The kids cars do take some managing. Ps, to keep their kids quiet, parents give their kids treats to eat and then offer the wrapping at the till for payment. Here in SA, some kids get fruit to eat courtesy of Store Management.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The compilation video at the end was fun – I liked the adult (or big kid) in the little yellow kiddie car/cart.
    And nice flow with golf connection and brief history of cars.
    Oh and don’t be so quick to say this post, or past posts, will not make a difference – because we just never know.

    Closing thought – but it a side trail – but sometimes I am sad when I see “some” folks in the battery-power carts- of course some folks “have” to use it but sometimes I see people who really would seem as if they would hugely benefit from the walk around the store – the gently walking would be so good for them

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So, it’s another global issue it seems Frank. Shopping carts and climate change 🙂 My shopping strategy is to go to the store either early morning or later in the evening when it is less populated and quieter on all levels. Makes for a much pleasanter shopping experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Just the kind of belly laugh post I needed to get me through another torturous end of Feb. Cincinnati, OH, day when the high temperature struggled to get out of the 30’s but it was still light enough at 6:45 pm to be outside playing golf. Also would like to see someone start up a shopping cart soap box derby.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There are so many different types and sizes of carts now! When my girls were little, we didn’t have all the other options. I don’t think I took them with me often, but I don’t remember any problems. There is a problem though returning the carts to the designated area if you have little children and it’s a distance away.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. In retirement, grocery shopping is part of our exercise routines so I can readily identify with most of these comments. I find it interesting how readily the carts become damaged, frame warped or wheels balky with tape or unrecognizable stuff. It must happen in the parking lot storage, maybe at night with guys like those in the last clip. Democratic socialists should be made aware of the dangers of too much spare time.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Cincy,

    You put the cart before the cart and created SO many carts out of this post!

    I have always been the ‘shopper’. My favorite time of the day to (grocery) shop used to be at night. Say, after ten. When my kids were babies, I would go around that time because I knew I would be up later. Grocery shopping at night is so chill. Sucks if you want deli meats but everything else is great. The worst time? Mid afternoon. Ugh.

    Those SUV shopping carts annoy me. I get it, parents need to keep the kids happy. I used to just play games with my kids. My son and me would play “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” when he was a boy. And with my daughter, we pretended to be Power Ranger Secret Agents, LOL. Now that I’m older, I just don’t think kids should be allowed in stores. Perspective.

    Love your carts post, Frank!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Only you, Frank, could write about grocery vehicles with such panache! I can relate to all of these and remember when they were much smaller. At my HEB you can go online, order and pick up your groceries. All very convenient and may be useful as I get older. However, it is a nuisance as employees with huge – I will call them trailers! – that gather items. They really get in the way. Oh, well, it is part of the trend and other stores are doing it. Creative post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jo,
      Describing this post with “panache” makes me gush with pride. Thank you! I understand what you are saying about the employee’s and their cargo trailers. Overall, my experience says that they are conscious of interfering with shoppers – as a matter of fact, they are willing to help or move when noticing their blockade interfering with shoppers.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks so much for the laughs, Frank. 😃 I like your idea of a ‘prod’ and would buy one if they became available for purchase. I do agree that there should be a test before people are let loose amongst the public in the ride-on carts. When my son was old enough to walk and push a cart, I used to find that whilst I was perusing the shelves, my cart would suddenly disappear and then reappear around the end of the aisle at great speed after obviously travelling around the store , manned by a small guy who could barely see through the space between the cart and its handle. 😟 Fortunately I never got sued for damages. 😅

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Had to laugh at the videos. Since I have been banned from shopping (too many off-list purchases) I have lost touch with the vagaries of cart management. In the past, I do remember being hit by a freewheeling cart in the parking lot. A woman in a new car got out and thanked me for intercepting what would have been a door denting projectile. She also had a band-aid for the shin wound.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Shopping carts..
    The first thing that jumped into my mind was the homeless. They use shopping carts to shift their meager and ultimately pathetic belongings around in.
    I live on a main street. The store next door has been vacant for almost 2 years. The city’s high taxes are obstructive to small commerce ventures.
    So, a homeless couple have moved onto the wide step, which is about 6 ” off the sidewalk. It is at a streetcar stop. People stare numbly, at the heap that is the homeless couples’ life.
    The couple is there, huddled under their tarps and blankies and beggings almost every day/night.
    There is a sad, filled with their belongings, shopping cart at the end of their encampment. It’s just before the area where they urinate… etc.
    Frank, this is my honest thought on shopping carts. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, except society should do better for those who live out of shopping carts.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I cannot tell you, Frank, how often I have said there should be rules and etiquette! How about when two friends run into each other and place their carts, on on the left, the other on the right but you would be able to zigzag between the two, however, that is where they stand chinwagging!
    Don’t get me started on the kiddie carts. Ugh. Little heathens. I am the primary shopper, and I like to go at times when people are home at supper or fifteen minutes before it closes. Best. Ever.
    Fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dale,
      Given comments from Canada, New Zealand, and the US, this post indicates that shopping carts and shopper behaviors are clearly an international issue along with climate change, human rights, denuclearization, and more. When with the United Nations take notice!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I am laughing out loud, Frank. I have never thought before about a test that could be applied to potential cart handlers, but it would be a fabulous idea. I have had my heels bumped into so many times by pushy cart “drivers” and my husband has been so annoyed before that he has walked out of the store leaving his own partially full cart off to the side. He has no patience for the pushiness. Fortunately for our food pantry, I am the primary shopper and as much as it annoys me, I’m used to it! And I ALWAYS return my carts, typically walking past people half my age who can’t be bothered. Love the videos, Frank!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Bwahaha! Me thinks there was some alcohol involved in the fail video. 🤣

    The trust funder millennials who shop at my local Safeway think the store is their private playground and all decisions regarding whether to purchase the 6 oz. or 12 oz. of XYZ product must be pondered and contemplated in the middle of the blinking isle!! Grrr 👿 I make sure to shop early to avoid causing any bodily harm.

    Liked by 2 people

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