Posted by: Jamie Stamm | December 5, 2008

My plea to the grocery store managers of the world

I am convinced that the person who developed the child-sized shopping carts that now populate every major grocery store in our area doesn’t have children.

And I’ll relate why, as soon as I share my own history of shopping with my son.

Anthony has been a grocery-store terror since his first shopping trip nearly three years ago. I don’t know if it was the bright lights or the vibration of a cart with a wobbly wheel or even the sound of a cashier calling for a price check, but something about grocery shopping made him scream at the top of his lungs. I probably abandoned a dozen half-filled carts midway through the cereal aisle before finally relinquishing all grocery duties to Jerry. And it stayed that way until after Ant’s first birthday.

Over the past two years, we’ve gradually reintroduced him to the shopping scene, starting with quick jaunts for milk and bread and working our way up to the mammoth excursion that is the weekly grocery trip. And we were finally there – the fairly-well-behaved-toddler, virtually-stress-free-mom outing – thanks in large part to bulky, car-shaped carts with child-sized steering wheels and abundant samples of fruits, breads, cheeses and meats.

And then, one day, we walked into our usual grocery store, and there they were: a line of brand new, shiny silver, pint-sized grocery carts with fake plastic flags bearing the words “Customer in Training.”

Cera just had to have one. And, thus, so did Anthony.

And ever since that day, my grocery trips have been pure hell.

Because if I tell the kids they can’t have carts, then the whole visit has started off on the wrong foot. And if I relent and say OK, I’ve automatically added at least 15 minutes to my shopping trip – that’s the amount of time I estimate I spend righting overturned carts, replacing the cans of olives and bags of marshmallows that my “customers in training” pull off the shelves and attempt to sneak into their baskets and helping Cera and Ant straighten out when the wheels of these poorly made carts guide them directly into a display of cereal boxes. (Once, at a grocery store that had just updated its kids’ carts, the manager stopped me to ask if I thought they handled better, right as Anthony ran his cart at full force into the backs of my ankles. As I winced in pain and she stood there beaming at my son, I had thoughts of ramming her in the back with my full-sized cart. Thankfully, that moment passed.)

Then there are the races up and down the aisles (usually an aisle full of glass jars, like one with pasta sauces or, God forbid, wine bottles), the intentional crashes into one another (which inevitably leads to tears for one or both children) and the aforementioned unintentional crashes (at least I hope they’re unintentional) into Mommy, which have left me bruised, and on one occasion, bloody. It’s not uncommon for Cera and Anthony to abandon their carts halfway through the store in favor of a cookie from the bakery, out of sheer boredom or, on one particular trip with Ant, because he realized his cart didn’t have a flag (this led to a full-on meltdown). My kids and I have gotten more than our share of scowls from senior citizens (do you people not remember what it was like have young children?), but even worse are the doting kids-can-do-no-wrong women who coo “Aren’t they precious?” as my now-empowered mini-shoppers wreak havoc in the frozen food section.

So, to the inventor of these tot-sized weapons of mass destruction and the smiling store managers who think they’re the greatest invention since sliced bread, I must ask: Do you have children? And, if so, have you ever let them push one of these dreadful creations?

The way I see it, the samples and free cookies – coupled with the fact that you sell candy, soda and ice cream – are enough to ensure that my kids don’t need training in how to push a cart to become your future customers.

So please, save my sanity and restore some tranquility to my grocery store visits (I’m sure your other customers would appreciate that as well). All you have to do is get rid of those stupid carts.



  1. I totally agree. I think the Lowe’s here has gotten rid of theirs and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

  2. I feel your pain!! I have a rule that we ONLY use the little cart if all of our grocery needs will fit in there. I try to remind my daughter that sometimes we need a big cart and sometimes we can use a little cart. Preparing her in the parking lot has worked well for the past year. I’ve recently started giving her a Dum Dum sucker, too. Bribery can work wonders! I’ve come to enjoy the shopping trips where she can push the little cart, but you have to remind me of that when she runs over my foot.

  3. I can’t believe this came from the little girl who used to push her plastic shopping cart around the Acme while shopping from her own special list!!

  4. But Mom, you must remember that I was a saint and Anthony is a hellion 🙂

    Plus, that cart was made of thick plastic – not the same as metal when it slams into your ankles!

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