Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anatomy of a Shopping Cart

One of my responsibilities as house manager is household grocery & supply shopping, as well as shopping for anything else the family needs in a given week. Besides getting me out of the house and allowing me to drive around the city (which, despite how most people feel about city driving, I usually enjoy), shopping also exposes me to a great amount of stores and their shopping carts.

I think most of you know how I feel about shopping carts (buggies, trolleys, carriages...whatever you want to call them)... I love them. I have one on my porch and he is currently all decked out for Christmas. Shopping carts have personality and soul, and they symbolize many things to many people. (Can I say that? I have no evidence to back any of that up. Maybe you guys could just let me know what shopping carts mean to you, if anything?)

The biggest thing I've learned: not only are all stores not created equally, neither are their respective shopping carts. I've split carts into four basic categories, and each one says something about the stores they are employed by.

Classic Cart
Stores: Jewel-Osco...and essentially every average grocery store in the nation

This is your basic design, steel frame shopping cart. It's efficient, fairly light, and doesn't pretend to be something it's not. Get something caught in one of it's front wheels and say goodbye to turning, but generally, this cart gets the job done.

PlaySkool/Fisher Price Cart
Store: Target

You know what I'm talking about, those over-sized plastic red carts. According to wikipedia (see, I did some research), "Target's new cart, made of recycled plastic, is an evolutionary step forward. The cart has won design awards for its improved casters, interchangeable plastic parts to simplify repairs and handles that allow a user to more easily maneuver it around the retail area." I appreciate the recycled part. As for ease of maneuvering, HA! They are so big and bulky, I tend to forgo the cart in lieu of the basket. Don't even try to get those things in the clothing department aisles. Without fail, you will knock several sweaters off the racks and/or become involved in a cart jam near the dressing rooms.

Quarter Cart
Stores: Aldi, some Costcos

These carts are a variation of the Classic Cart in that they are a Classic Cart, you just have to part with a quarter for the duration of your shopping trip to gain access to it. Some people don't like this system, but I think it's rather ingenious. First: it deters shopping cart theft. Not that a quarter will really stand in the way of someone who really wants to steal a cart, but there are less wandering carts and, therefore, opportune moments to grab one and go. Second: it saves on having to hire someone just to round up carts in the parking lot. Gotta appreciate a store putting the consumer to work, all for a quarter that was already theirs.

Baby Cart
Stores: Dominick's, Whole Foods

The mini-version of the Classic Cart, and perhaps my favorite of all carts, the Baby Cart features an upper and lower basket, so you really don't lose a lot of loading capacity. What you gain is increased maneuverability and the ability to fit into cramped or crowded aisles, at Whole Foods specifically. Whole Foods also offers the Classic Cart, but with the way the store is set up and the diminutive size of the aisles, you have got to be a special brand of jerk to use it. Even if every customer uses the Baby Cart, two people in one aisle is a bit much. I'm not a huge fan of Whole Foods specifically for their idiotic layout and cramped area, but I have to go there for work...and I do appreciate the free samples.

All I have to say in conclusion is I'm glad my blogs are so relevant and practical.

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