Received many responses to a recent column about the neighborhood blight caused by stolen, abandoned shopping carts. Here are some of the best …
From Steve Portias of San Bernardino:
I’m not sure what grocery carts cost today, but 25 years ago they were about $175, so I’m sure much higher now. If you or I walked into a Stater Brothers and walked out with $175 worth of steaks or food we would be arrested.
Plus, the cost the grocers pay for a cart recovery business to go out and retrieve them all adds up on the bottom line of the cost of the grocer doing business and is reflected in the cost of our grocery bill….we pay for it. The consumer is not responsible for providing a homeless person with a $200-$400 shopping cart.
From Barbara Brazz of Big Bear City:
You will be happy to hear that someone has actually solved this problem. There is a 99 Cents Only store on E street in San Bernardino, almost directly across from an entrance to Inland Center.
There are yellow dots painted around their parking lot. If you cross over the line, the wheels lock and the cart just goes in circles. It takes a special tool to unlock them.
I was there 2 years ago, so I can’t speak as to whether they still have the system in place. It’s possible they abandoned the idea, due to people like myself, who went over the line just because it was a hoot to see the carts go in a circle. Perhaps the cost of a cart now and then did not add up to the cost of a full-time person to unlock them.
Anyway, thought you might be interested. I read your column whenever I have time to read the paper. Good job, Mr. Weeks!
From Jerry Hampton:
In reading your article on the weekend about the shopping cart problem, I am prompted to write.
In many visits to Germany I have noticed that they do not have a problem with their carts at all. There are no carts being used by the homeless and there are no carts all over the parking lot or around the neighborhoods.
Each of their shopping carts has a coin slot and a chain. When a customer wants a cart, they go to the cart rack and deposit a coin (in this case it is a Euro) or store token into the handle of the shopping cart. This pushes the chain out and you can then use the cart. When you are finished with it, you take the cart back, put the chain back in and it pushes the coin out and you get your coin or token back. Even if someone didn’t take their cart back, someone else would return it and get the coin or token. The German people take it for granted that if they want a cart they get it from the proper place and when they are finished with it they take it back and get their coin back.
No one needs to collect carts from all over the lot and the stores don’t have to pay a company to go around the neighborhoods to find them. No cart wheel locks are needed and no alarms are necessary.
I know that to put this type of plan into effect would require retrofitting many carts, but the stores spend quite a bit of money now on an ongoing basis. At least with the retrofit, it would have to be done only once. Of course it would also take getting the public to go along with it. The public should be willing because it doesn’t cost them anything as they use the same coin or token over and over again.
After all, the proper thing to do is take the cart back. Evidently we just need a reason to do it.
This seems like such a simple solution.
From Ann of San Bernardino:
We remember well being in northern France and grocery shopping with relatives.
Seems that the shopping carts were located in the parking lot adjacent to the store,
and tucked nicely into a rack. For a few coins, we were able to access a cart and
use it in the store, carry our purchases to the car, return the cart to the rack, and
retrieve those coins; similar to baggage claim areas in airports or train depots.
Seems like some of our reputable grocery owners might give this a try to see if
such a plan would work in CA. It worked nicely in France.
Thanks for letting me respond.