Caroline's Carts - Grocers try out cart that was developed by mom of a special needs child...
People taking care of children with disabilities can grocery shop with more ease thanks to Caroline’s Cart.
The shopping cart, specially designed to accommodate children and adults with special needs, is now at a number of Massachusetts supermarkets, including certain Wegmans, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Big Y and Whole Foods stores.
“It’s been very successful,” Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said. “We’re getting tremendous feedback from our customers. They get used quite frequently.”
Wegmans has two carts at its Northboro store, and a pair is headed for its Chestnut Hill location.
The chain had tested the cart in Rochester, N.Y., but took it out of commission when customers without special needs children were using it. It then put an Americans with Disabilities Act label on the cart to ensure its proper use. And in the last couple of months, it’s ordered the carts for all of its stores.
Feedback from parents kept Caroline’s Cart creator Drew Ann Long going when she started pursuing the idea six years ago after dealing with the challenge of grocery shopping with her daughter Caroline. Once Caroline grew out of fitting in the seat of a conventional shopping cart, the Alabama mother found herself unable to push her in a wheelchair while also pushing a shopping cart.
“I said, ‘Well this is what I think is needed, let me put it out there,’ ” Long said. “It went viral so fast. I knew, clearly, that I wasn’t the only mom in America who had a disabled child. We’re in every neighborhood in America.”
Features of the $850 cart, which can hold up to 250 pounds, include swinging handles for easy access to the seat, the back of which has a 5-degree tilt to increase comfort for children with low muscle tone. There’s a harness to help keep the child secure and an abductor in the seat to help keep the child upright.
“Anything that improves the ability to have people with disabilities in the community — participating in shopping and other things — is absolutely great,” said Christine Griffin, executive director of the Disability Law Center in Boston. “This cart may not be for every kid with a disability that a parent wants to take shopping, but it certainly would work for some kids.”
Hannaford has the carts at its Waltham, Leominster, Dracut and Lunenberg stores. “We have been getting customer requests in some stores for this, and it’s certainly a service that we want to try to provide where it’s needed, as much as possible,” spokesman Eric Blom said.