Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding your next set of wheels

art by deb lucke
Chances are, if you’re not in the market for a shopping cart right now, you will be soon. This guide should help you find the cart that’s right for you.

Costco shopping carts
Costco carts are humongous and totally lacking in style. But that’s part of their charm. In fact, it's the only part of their charm. Two-toned in black and grey steel, the design is no-nonsense--boxy and utilitarian. Made to shlep almost a ton of your most important belongings, even the 60 inch plasma TV you can’t bear to part with. Ergonomics are mediocre. A highly placed handle bar could contribute to shoulder and neck problems with continued use. The wheel system is primitive, yielding a rather bumpy ride. All in all, not a great choice unless you're a hopeless pack rat.
Target shopping carts
Target carts are sleek, shiny and well-designed. Metallic silver with accents of red, somehow these carts possess a sporty air that belies their massive size. Steel wheels and well maintained turning valves guarantee a smooth ride. A flap down child seat makes this the perfect cart for people with families who haven’t lost their style. Rumor has it, next years model will have a tin cup holder.

Safeway shopping carts
A solid cart that holds a lot of stuff. Silver all over with particularly wide grids, Comes in a choice of Red or Blue plastic accents. it’s not the most efficient vehicle for transporting smaller items like jewelry and tchatchkes and cosmetics which can slip through the holes, but it’s great for larger objects like your shoes, purses and wintercoats. Theres a foot bar near the base on the drivers side that makes it particularly fun for popping wheelies.
Albertsons shopping carts
Frankly, these are the Pinto of shopping carts. It’s not that they’re unattractive. They’re well designed from a esthetic point of view. But practically speaking, they’re one of the reasons Albertsons are closing all over the country. The wheels don’t turn properly, they’re imbalanced and are always getting stuck. Particularly in the ice cream section. But even if they were driveable, these carts were obviously designed by someone who only uses shopping carts for groceries. The size and inner design ensures that everything in it, from your aquarium, to your wardrobe to 20 pounds of old newspaper are always cramped.
Lucky shopping carts
While owned by Albertsons, the Lucky logo on your shopping cart shows that you have both style and a keen sense of irony. Design-wise ithere’s nothing flashy about these carts. They’re your basic middle of the road, well constructed, durable cart. They have got plenty of room and the ride is smooth. A nice ergonomic touch, the hand formed rubber handles provide an exceedingly comfortable grip. On the downside, these carts are prone to rust, so you have to be careful to keep them out of the rain. Not recommended for Pacific Northwest dwellers unless they have a second cart.

Trader Joes shopping carts
Neither luxury or utilitarian, a Trader Joe's cart is the rare hybrid that’s both practical and sporty. The lines are jaunty and clean, it comes in a hot fire engine red, the wheels are aligned so it corners like a dream. And while the cart is compact and agile, it carries a lot of stuff. The best of all worlds.

Whole Foods shopping carts
Definitely the status cart of the bunch. Sleek stainless steel design with forest green accents. Ergonomically designed handles and baby seat. But like so many coveted vehicles, the Whole Food cart has some fatal flaws. The wheels have a tendency to stick, which makes running from the law or creditors problematic. Such thoughtless engineering is all the more unforgivable considering that shopping at Whole Foods helped you go broke in the first place.


  1. Walmart carts are conspicuously absent in your review. Is there a reason for that?

  2. I'm morally opposed to Walmart carts for a number of reasons. But if they were well made or stylish or had anything worthwhile to recommend themselves as a reliable transporter of worldly possessions, I could overlook my ethical objections. They're poorly made, with huge grids that can't even contain a liter of beer without it falling through and crashing on the sidewalk. And don't even get me started on the wheels -- sticky and almost impossible to turn. They've been known to tip over when making a mere 10 degree turn. Ralph Nader would call them unsafe at any speed.