The 10 Best Folding Shopping Carts
We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. City dwellers will love the convenience that these folding carts bring to their shopping excursions. They make it easy to wheel around your eggs, milk, and bread, so it won't take multiple trips to get all your groceries inside. Of course, they can also serve in a myriad of other ways, like toting laundry, carrying firewood, or hauling gear to a campsite. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best folding shopping cart on Amazon.
A Brief History Of The Shopping Cart
Called the Telescope Cart, Watson's version included a hinged rear panel that could swing upwards to allow multiple carts to be stored in an interlocked position.
This was spurred on in part by the development of the nesting cart in 1946 by Kansas City inventor Orla Watson.
The first shopping cart was introduced in 1937 by a man named Sylvan Goldman, who owned a supermarket chain in Oklahoma called Humpty Dumpty. He developed it in an effort to allow people to buy more groceries, as the size of a purchase at the time was typically limited by the amount a shopper could carry.
The original prototype Goldman built was made of a wooden folding chair, to which he affixed a set of wheels. He placed a basket on the seat, and a crude version of the shopping cart was born. He shared his invention with one of his employees named Fred Young, and the pair began collaborating on a more refined design.
Goldman and Young's initial attempt to refine the cart design consisted of a metal frame housing two of the wire baskets that the chain already provided for customers to carry their groceries around their stores. A mechanic named Arthur Kosted helped the pair develop an assembly line for mass-production. In 1940, the invention was awarded a patent titled "Folding Basket Carriage for Self-Service Stores."
At first, the shopping cart was slow to catch on. Women found them too reminiscent of baby carriages, and men in turn found their design effeminate. In an effort to combat these criticisms, Goldman hired models of both genders to push the carts around his stores and shop so that others might see their utility. It worked, and shopping carts of various designs have been ubiquitous ever since.
Goldman's original models closely resembled the folding carts presented here. It wasn't until later in the decade that carts began to look more like they do today. This was spurred on in part by the development of the nesting cart in 1946 by Kansas City inventor Orla Watson. Called the Telescope Cart, Watson's version included a hinged rear panel that could swing upwards to allow multiple carts to be stored in an interlocked position.
Watson presented his invention to several grocery store owners in the Kansas City area, one of whom was Fred Taylor, a business partner of Goldman's. Taylor saw the potential in the more space-efficient nesting carts and informed Goldman, who tried to patent the innovation himself. After a lengthy legal dispute, Watson was granted the patent in 1949 and gave Goldman an exclusive license to the technology.
In 1947, Goldman added a child's seat to his designs, which, along with Orla's nesting design, continues to be found on shopping carts around the world to this day.
The Many Benefits Of Folding Shopping Carts
There's no shortage of uses for folding carts, but those who live in urban areas can undoubtedly reap the most benefits from them. That's because they make it possible to carry your groceries (or just about anything else) over long distances on public transportation or on foot. While they may not be as useful to car owners or those who don't live within walking distance of retail stores, they might still be worth the purchase if you find yourself frequently struggling to move heavy loads around your home.
While the primary use for your cart may be hauling groceries, it's common to see people using them to push laundry around city streets.
While the primary use for your cart may be hauling groceries, it's common to see people using them to push laundry around city streets. If you use a laundromat, foldable carts offer an extremely convenient means of transporting your clothes on laundry day. Note that it's a good idea to keep your detergent at the bottom, as placing heavy objects on top can throw-off your cart's balance, making it more likely to tip over.
Picnics and other outdoor ventures present another great opportunity to make use of your folding cart. Some models even come with insulated liners to help keep your food at the proper temperature while you make your way to your destination. Think of it like a cooler you don't have to carry. They're also great for the beach, as long as you get a model with tires that can maneuver on sand.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of these carts is the fact that they fold up for storage. In addition to saving your back and arms the strain of carrying a slew of heavy grocery bags, they also don't take up too much room in your home. Many models are lightweight enough to hang on a wall while not in use, so you don't even have to sacrifice floor space. And because of their size and weight, they're easy to carry with you when they're empty, even if you prefer not to roll them on your way to the store.
Contemporary Innovations in Shopping Cart Technology
While the tried and true style of shopping carts has served us quite well since the 1940s, there has been quite a bit of innovation since then. From updated materials to the inclusion of high-tech gadgetry, lots of developments have come along, but it's unclear which ones will stand the test of time.
Some stores use specially designed tiles around their walls or parking lots to inhibit users from pushing the carts beyond their perimeters.
In recent years, some retailers, including Target, have replaced their classic, all-metal carts with primarily plastic designs. The benefits of plastic carts include lighter weight, lower manufacturing costs, and a lower risk of damage to store shelves and cars. If you've ever inadvertently allowed a metal cart to roll itself into your vehicle while unloading groceries, you'll understand the value of this development.
Another notable innovation in the field is the self-driving cart. Various efforts have been made to this end since 2012 by retailers including Wal-Mart.
Theft-combatting advancements are also popular. Coin deposit systems have been in use worldwide at certain chains for decades. Some stores use specially designed tiles around their walls or parking lots to inhibit users from pushing the carts beyond their perimeters. Automatically locking, geo-fenced wheels are also gaining popularity. Given that cart-theft costs retailers up to $800 million annually, it's proven to be an important problem for the industry to solve.
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