Where Did The Shopping Cart Come From?

Almost every time a customer goes to the grocery store or a super store, they are not there for a couple of items. Often, they are usually there to buy several items, so they grab a shopping cart. Not many of us stop to think about the convenience of this item or how it came to be. Just think how hard it would be to have to physically carry all the items you want to buy with you throughout a store. Let’s take a look at the brief history of this convenient item that most of us take for granted.

Goldman’s Problem

Back in 1936, there was a guy named Sylvan Goldman, and he started noticing a problem at his Standard/Piggly Wiggly grocery locations in Oklahoma City: Shoppers were given a small wooden or wire basket to shop with and once it got too heavy, they would head to a check-out line. So, he started to brainstorm how to fix this and came up with an idea while looking at a wooden folding chair.

First Design

After a few months of tinkering with different ideas, he settled on a design that he considered flexible and innovative. In order to use a cart, the idea was to take a folded-up frame from a row. In the row, they were stacked side-by-side, and they were only 5″ wide in their folded form. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much storage space. As a side note, this was a worry but was improved upon later. After the shopper unfolded it, he/she would take two baskets and place them into two holders on the frame — one above and one below. 

Much to Goldman’s dismay, his new invention was not taking off as he expected. Why not? Because men were too proud to admit that they needed help and women were tired of pushing their small children around and didn’t want to have to do the same for shopping.

Peer Pressure

Since only the elderly were interested in his invention, Goldman hired good looking men and women to use his carts inside the store and pretend to shop. When real customers would refuse the new carts, they would be pressured into using them because everyone else was doing it. All it took was a little peer pressure.


Only three years after these carts were introduced, they were so popular that grocery stores were being designed with shopping carts in mind. But, other people realized that it could be better. Inventors started to make the following improvements to Goldman’s design:

  • Made the baskets firmly and securely attached to the cart
  • Re-designed baskets to have a hinged back
  • Made the top basket fold up and out of the way while a hydraulic platform at check-out would lift the basket at the bottom up to counter height simply by pushing a button

Today’s Shopping Cart

In the 1950’s, the shopping cart that we all know today was introduced. There have been a few add-ons like the baby seat, drink holders, plastic handles, and more space in the basket but the basic shopping cart design has not changed a whole lot since then.

Good L Corporation provides businesses everywhere with the only American made shopping carts. Contact Good L Corporation today for more information on adding shopping carts to your business.