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!
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?
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.