Shopping cart

How to improve the average basket

At the grocery store, I recently noticed gadgets on the right front wheel of shopping carts. After poking around with them a bit, I found out that the attachments are anti-theft devices.

I had no idea there was such a problem with cart theft to deserve this kind of system. Sure, once in a while you see a homeless looking person pushing their stuff in a cart. Or teenagers riding them in a parking lot. But those uses hardly justify all carts getting fancy high-tech add-ons.

The anti-theft system works because when the cart rolls too far from the mothership signal (on store property), the device on the wheel locks and brakes so the wheel doesn’t work and it’s impossible to push carriage.

I think it would be nicer to have a search device. Let people take their groceries home in a cart if they need it, then stores could use a locator signal to round up the carts from time to time. To my knowledge, hundreds of people do not bring their groceries back in carts. And if there are, good for them. Exercise. I say write a grant for funding and provide carts. Cardiac cart program. Push, don’t drive, your errands home for a greener planet and leaner you. If you would like a cart, consult your store cart-iologist.

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I think stolen carts are more of a problem in urban areas. There are services stores can hire to move around with a flatbed truck, rounding carts to return to home stores.

So many cart choices!

An article I read said that stolen carts represent an annual loss of $8,000 to $10,000 for a grocery store. Depending on the style, carts cost between $200 and $500 each. The store I shop at probably spends that much on window cleaner every year. Or give a cookie to each child who enters. In my opinion, it’s not really worth implementing a full anti-theft program.

System technology will require updates and maintenance. Could end up costing more than the missing carts. Frankly, and I’m not proud of it, the lock makes me want to see if I can sneak a cart off the property. I would take it back, but there is a little challenge there now.

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I don’t want to own a cart, but I’m intrigued by them. Or rather the many choices. Shops used to have the only standard, deep buggy type. Now there are so many that you have to spend a few moments in the lobbies of some stores to figure out which type you want to use. Double-decker bus. Small, light. The kind for two children to ride. The kind of scooter you can drive. And much more.

I love miniature carts that kids can push to “help”.

The stores don’t carry them (yet) but I’ve also seen dog carts. And the cats. People bring them into the store to shop with them. I literally saw a man in the grocery store pushing a dog in a stroller that had a place for groceries. He also wore a Superman cape. The dog, not the owner. I spoke to them for a few minutes. The dog was not a support animal. He didn’t like being left in the car.

Suggestions for Cart Upgrades

Interesting to see people sanitizing their carts with the hand wipes in the lobby. Branch. Some wipe only the push bar, others vigorously rub the wipes all over the cart. People, you can’t chase the public out of public places. Whoever got hold of your cart also got hold of that box of corn you picked up. And that magazine you looked at and those dollar bills you handed over to the cashier.

When I buy products, I wash them when I get home not because of the chemicals, but because everyone and his brother have touched and handled them. Because the product goes in my mouth. Since I don’t lick the carts, I don’t use the wipes in the lobby. I just wash my hands when I’m done shopping.

If money needs to be spent on shopping carts, there are improvements we can make other than anti-theft. My pet peeve is the lower bar at the back of the cart at shin level. If you walk fast and with a long stride… ouch. I can’t count the times I’ve bruised my shins with this bar. I have to take baby steps when shopping.

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While reading about carts (I know, I know, I need a hobby), I learned the proper names for many cart parts. It’s the egg frame I keep getting bruises on. It greatly increases the load capacity and overall durability of the cart. I am also familiar with casters, leg hole closures and rim covers with corner bumpers.

I would like a mat provided for the bottom of the cart. So the little things don’t fall through the grid. Carts may have GPS-like devices so you can locate groceries in the store. I was in a store several years ago where the carts contained iPad-like units, which had advertisements running most of the time. No, just no. Grocery stores already have way too much commotion without someone yelling at you from a screen on your stroller, about the nutritional value of the new cereal.


Another improvement could be hand warmers in the handle. Or a zippered top on the cart portion so you can hold your child and/or the groceries they throw out of the cart while shopping. Caddies can be remote controlled like those fancy golf carts that you don’t have to push. It’s both cool and scary to see a golf bag traveling around the golf course with no one around.

escalator trolley

When I went to New York to see College Son several years ago, I was mesmerized by the shopping cart escalator paralleling the people escalator in multi-level grocery stores. Brilliant invention. You place your cart on a separate narrow escalator next to you when you step onto the people escalator. It locked in place and rolled alongside you to the top.

His son tried to drag me away to see more conventional tourist sites. I told him I could see the Statue of Liberty or Times Square in a thousand books and movies. But no documentaries on this cute trolley escalator. It’s something to see. He sighed and sat down as I walked up and down the escalator, studying the trolleys lined up on their own escalator.

Luckily the anti-theft gadgets are on carts here in town, so I can watch them for as long as I want without disturbing anyone.

Nancy Williams

That’s the opinion of Nancy Williams, vocational education coordinator at UNC Asheville. Contact her at [email protected]