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Wegmans, Kroger add Caroline's Cart

Wegmans is the latest retail chain to make Caroline’s Cart, a special shopping cart equipped with a seat for children and adults with special needs, available in nearly all of its stores.

The retailer’s decision was influenced by a shopper named Janet whose child is blind and has other disabilities, explained Mary Ellen Burris in a Fresh Stories blog post.

She was aware of a product on the market for such special needs, called Caroline’s Cart, (named for the child of parents who developed this cart and went to market with it.) Janet approached the store where she shopped to see if they could obtain one of the Caroline’s Carts. Now, not only does Janet’s store have such a cart, almost every Wegmans store does.

Kroger also recently began carrying the carts that feature a locking brake and can accommodate a person up to 250 pounds, in nine additional stores, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. As reported in SN, Kroger first brought the carts to its Northville, Mich. store last year.

Several shoppers who heard about the new carts at Kroger reached out to H-E-B via Facebook Tuesday, to encourage it to bring them to stores. Pam Barcroft made one such request.

At the ShopRite store in Clark, N.J., the cart, which ranges in cost from $800 to $1,000, provided "one of the best shopping experiences I've had in a long time" shopper Amy Solecki Downey, whose eight year old son has Angelman Syndrome, told The Star-Ledger

At 80 pounds, Andrew has long outgrown the seats built into shopping carts. So he’d sit in the main cart area while Downey put her small pile of groceries into the smaller compartment up top. All the while, whether real or imagined, she felt other shoppers judging her as a parent who encouraged her son to be lazy or spoiled.

While shopper loyalty is high among users, retailers need to properly manage the carts, according to Burris, who related that after previously testing Caroline's Cart in a single store, it decided not to use it.

So rewind: as it turned out, before Janet approached us, we had tried one in a Rochester store, but took it out when we discovered that it was used for purposes other than for kids with special needs. So we learned from that experience that placement in the store is important and signage is necessary. However, it was Janet’s persistence with our service area manager in Mt. Laurel, NJ, Jennifer, that led us to bring one in for her store, find the right place and sign it appropriately.

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