Chariots of Ire

Loblaws has an outlet in Westboro called the Real Canadian Superstore. And we all know Real Canadians don’t complain. But we apparently do steal shopping carts. They show up all over the neighborhood:

carts in a field near Lanark/Clearview, possibly ‘cleaned out’ of the adjacent Island Park Towers

The RCSS in Westboro recently got a fleet of new carts. The half-size carts in particular are a welcome alternative to the tractor-trailer sized ones the dominate the store and invite you to load ’em up with more stuff than you need and then clip the heels of the fatigued shopper ahead of you..

The new carts have wheel brakes on them. Once you leave the parking lot, the brakes come on and the cart stays on the property. Works great, as far as I can see, in the back 40 (-acre parking lot).

But out front, where the cyclists and pedestrians and transit users frequent the store, the story is different. Instead of the carts coagulating around the bus stop and bike racks, many of them ‘freeze up’ right at the foot of the ramp down to the sidewalk. I realize this is probably the actual property line, but it isn’t where people want to take them (even if you aren’t trying to take one home).

this cart goes one way, it goes out

Nonetheless, I see people drag them over to the bus shelter (hint: you can’t push them with the brakes on, but you can drag them, much like a recalcitrant four-year old). So despite the locking brakes, the carts now litter the entire trail over to the shelter. I see people get off the bus, and grab a cart to take with them back towards the store. But wait, they won’t roll, so they get left behind as sidewalk litter. Even the carts right at the foot of the ramp won’t move, and this is just outside the store doors.

The result is that people of good will are thwarted, the carts linger outside longer, Loblaws has to depend on an employee with an unlocking gizmo to go collect the carts, and shoppers often have to walk the whole width of the store to get a fresh cart from the inside display, conveniently located half way to the parking lot. Hmm.

Richmond coral, where the grocery carts gather …

I lived for a short time in Fenwick Towers, the Dalhousie U residence in Halifax. There was a giant Sobey’s right across the street. Carts, of course, ended up more in the lobby and entrance way of Fenwick than in the parking lot. The solution: a coin deposit to ‘borrow’ a cart. For the sake of earning 25c, impoverished students would take the carts back to Sobey’s. Problem solved.

I wonder if Galen Weston could work with the Real Canadian shoppers and figure out a win-win solution.

5 thoughts on “Chariots of Ire

  1. Several stores in Ottawa use the “coin deposit” system for encouraging people to bring back their carts. The Food Basics at Carling and Kirkwood, for one, and there are others. If you’re too lazy to bring back your cart, then there’s always someone around willing to make that long trek back to the store for the 25cents or $1 (depending) deposit. A simple solution, and it works.

  2. A neighbour calls the Superstore the Stupidstore, and it’s kind of catchy don’t you think? I hate those big shopping carts and always wonder where you find the cute little ones that Metro has. But the purpose of my comment is to ask if you’ve noticed the new contraptions that have been added to the handles of the carts. They look like coin locks are to be added in the near future.

  3. The Superstore earns a special place of derision in my heart at times. The clipping of the heels is so true, and no one ever apologizes. I don’t know if its the mob mentality from the larger grouping of people that removes ones civility but though the selection is poorer and prices higher, I much prefer the small Metro near island park.

    That said I do man up and go to the Superstore when I need to hit the LCBO. 😉

  4. These new locking mechanisms aren’t going anywhere as long as a) they accomplish the objective of stopping cart theft (which they almost certainly do), and b) the City doesn’t crack down on them for littering the public sidewalk (which they should).

    We live around the corner from the Stupourstore, and I prefer to park on the Richmond side when I take my car. But I can’t figure out how the locking mechanism knows when to kick in. I thought it was random at first. But then I realized: it always stops the cart dead 4-5 metres short of my car. So I have to ferry bags, bins, and small children across the scientifically calculated MAD (Most Annoying Distance) from where it would be useful.

  5. If they had a spot to put the shopping carts near the bus station, that would help. And of course allowing them to go that far.

    At the South Keys mall, folks do this a lot because it’s almost 1km to get from one side of the mall to the other. Trevor Pritchard reported on this in OpenFile in the summer:

    But… yeah. As a longtime pedestrian shopper, I used to do this a lot. I’d load up my cart and then push it to the Blockbuster (now Mucho Burrito). Folks would often push their carts together so that they didn’t just roll around. Seriously, loading up on your groceries and then carrying them from Loblaws or Walmart all the way to Greenboro or South Keys station is a pain.

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