Tuesday, 1 March 2016

state of the cart

Though H and I usually eschew taking a shopping-buggy, using just a basket or a bag and preferring not to lug home more from the corner market than we can comfortably carry, the story behind the ubiquitous and often overlooked shopping cart, via the always interesting Presurfer, is pretty fascinating—especially for the insights into marketing and consumer-conscience.
An enterprising green-grocer from a small town in Oklahoma, drawing on his war time experience as a provisioner in the commissariat, realised that the standard arrangement of having clerks wait on one customer at a time was inefficient and that the self-service model was a far better one. Emerging from the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression relatively unscathed, as people always need staples regardless of the economy, the chain of supermarkets the inventor and entrepreneur founded were holding on but just barely. In a flash of brilliance, the creator of the shopping cart found a way to persuade shoppers to buy more food (and differently packaged food, prepared meals and canned-goods) with each visit by lightening their burdens and giving their load to the steely sinews of an oversized basket on wheels. It would be hard to account for all the ways this invention changed our buying patterns and diets.