Point A to Point Oh Dear God
July 22, 2009 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Do you have your very own (non-pilfered) shopping cart? I may be selling my car soon, and need a liveable way of lugging groceries.

It's not a long haul, but I live at the top of a hill and the grocery store is at the bottom. After carrying a 40lb bag of cat litter back to my place the other day, it became apparent that I need a little help. I'm clueless as to what's out there in the world of personal shopping carts, and more importantly how well they function in practice. In order of importance, my priorities are:

- Price
- How smoothly it rolls and how well it turns
- Bulkiness/portability when not in use- once I get it back to the apartment, there are stairs to negotiate, and I will occasionally have to take it on the bus
- How ridiculous I will look dragging it around

On an average biweekly trip, I tend to buy the equivalent of one of a well-packed over-the-arm generic shopping basket or 2-3 plastic bags, plus a 20lb bag of litter. Although it is not much, just carrying it in a normal, non-rolling basket/bag is not an option due to serious back/neck issues. I don't have a bike, or I'd just buy a basket for it.
posted by notquitemaryann to Shopping (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you already own a small suitcase with wheels and a handle, I think that is a fine way to transport groceries. It's not ridiculous-looking, easy to bring on a bus, and obviously has other uses as well. I take my suitcase with me all the time to the store and it has saved my back and arms repeatedly.
posted by amicamentis at 8:17 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

In NYC, everybody has a "granny cart".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:18 PM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

This is not exactly what you asked for, but an option that solves the "how to carry it home" problem for me is to go to the cheapest grocery store in town- which is about 2 miles past the closest grocery store to my house. I walk or take the bus there, or I'll go there on the way home from somewhere else. Then I buy a buttload of stuff, stocking up on bulk sizes and that chain's inexpensive generic-brand stuff wherever possible. From there, I take a cab home. The cab ride is $8, but that grocery store is so much cheaper than the nearby one that I'm saving about $30 on groceries anyway, so it's still a net gain.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:18 PM on July 22, 2009

A full shopping cart will be tough to push uphill. Regular shopping carts are designed to be pushed on the smooth, clean floors of grocery stores.

I would suggest a cart that you pull, like this, for your situation.
posted by davey_darling at 8:19 PM on July 22, 2009

My grandma wheeled her shopping basket to the store back in the 1970s, back when everyone was poorer and didn't have 3 car households.
posted by @troy at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2009

I'd say you need big wheels for smooth rolling on streets. Golf carts are practically free at yard sales. You could easily attach a wire basket or something similar. And they fold.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2009

Maybe you want something like this? It's the first thing that popped up when I googled "granny cart." Here in Chicago, they're pretty common. They fold up for bus travel. I would start my search at the dollar store.
posted by veggieboy at 8:21 PM on July 22, 2009

I have a granny cart but I never use it cause it's such a pain. Too big and difficult to maneuver and it makes so much noise with the wires always clattering against each other especially when the sidewalk is bumpy. The granny style cart sits in my closet while I use this cart. Big rubber whees for a smooth ride, small footprint for storage, and it keeps everything nicely contained with no need for bags inside so I don't need to buy plastic grocery bags or bring reusable bags if I'm already bringing the cart.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:23 PM on July 22, 2009

I had a dollar-store granny cart for groceries. Each stair in my buildling has a little ridge, and hauling that thing full of groceries up and over each and every ridge on each step was a nightmare. I gave up, took the stuff out of the cart and never used it again. They're just not made for hauling vertically over stairs with ridges. I guess it depends on the number and kind of stairs you have to negotiate.

Do your back/neck issues preclude the use of a backpack? What about a rolling backpack? They are pretty versatile.
posted by amethysts at 8:28 PM on July 22, 2009

I think this kind is the best I've seen. It folds flat for storage.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:35 PM on July 22, 2009

Nthing granny cart. My grandmother has one that folds flat so that when she takes the retirement home bus to the grocery store, she can take it with her. Hers has wheels that look like they came off a Jeep stroller, and looks like it's ready to see combat.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:42 PM on July 22, 2009

The granny carts are nice, we've found that we end up using a old carseat stroller base more now like this since we don't have to lean over as much.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:55 PM on July 22, 2009

A friend of ours used to use his backpack--otherwise used for backpacking, so a good-sized one, not a daypack--for his groceries when he walked to the grocery store. He was a one-person household and it worked very well for him. Just tossing that out there--it always seemed very practical to me; the backpack is designed to distribute weight properly, there's no awkwardness with the rolling cart. Would be a bit tricky on the bus, maybe.
posted by not that girl at 9:22 PM on July 22, 2009

When I was in Alston/Brighton I used to go with the backpack approach. I'd shop for veggies at Haymarket and then take the T home. It worked well. Non-veggies were cheaper closer and didn't warrant a backpack.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:44 PM on July 22, 2009

If you do decide to go with the granny cart, a cardboard box in the bottom keeps things from slipping between those annoying gaps in the metal.

No points for style, though.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:03 PM on July 22, 2009

Forget circles, go triangle wheeled.

My complaint from observing this item online is only of size; I'd probably get a standard "granny cart" and have a handy friend (or scour Craigslist) attach the triangular wheel mechanism to the larger "granny cart".
posted by tilde at 10:06 PM on July 22, 2009

Don't know if it's available where you live, but Peapod and other similar services will deliver groceries to your home for a nominal fee. I use them quite a bit since I don't have a car anymore.
posted by sophist at 10:20 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know how bicycle-friendly your neighborhood is, but I'm always surprised by how much people fit into panniers or even a milk crate on a rear rack. Plus, if you used to use the car to get yourself around, the bicycle can help with that as well. Just make sure it's a bicycle you can afford to get run over. A steel frame is good for that, if you can find one used.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:59 PM on July 22, 2009

I don't know if this will work for you, but when I was a teenager and worked in a grocery store, our manager would allow some of the regular customers to "check out" a shopping cart to bring their stuff home. The customer would have to sign off on something at the customer service counter acknowledging they were borrowing the cart and promise to bring it back within 24 hours (but most people brought their carts back right away). When they brought the cart back, the customer service person would initial the chart and that was it.

This may not work these days since people are so sue-happy and the store manager in your neighborhood might be worried about liability, but it's worth a shot. Introduce yourself; let her/him know that you're a regular customer, car-less, have a back problem, live just up the hill and you're hoping s/he can help you out with this dilemma.

Good luck.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:36 PM on July 22, 2009

I used to take a backpack to the store, but if you have back issues this may not be for you. However, I used to live about 2 minutes walk from the store, so if I was buying a *lot*, I used to do what LuckySeven~ above suggests, only without the asking them bit. Then again it was a college town, so I think they were used to it. And I always took the cart back straight away.

These days back in England, I have to either get my groceries delivered or drive to the grocery store as there isn't one near and there's no bus route. Online grocery shopping is common here now, not sure how much it is there? If I'm doing a big shop it definitely works out cheaper than going to get it, but the stores vary on quality. Some will give you the almost out of date stuff rather than new stuff which really annoys me.
posted by nunoidia at 11:54 PM on July 22, 2009

Do you know anyone who lives in Europe? Over here in France practically everyone has personal shopping "carts": chariots de courses / poussettes in French (that's a commercial site -- for just photos, here are Google Images results for "chariot de courses"). They're shopping trolley bags in English, I've also heard them called just "trolleys". I'm at work and can't access ebay, maybe you can find them there? Or a store that ships to the US, or have a European friend send you one (shipping could be expensive though).
posted by fraula at 12:32 AM on July 23, 2009

Living in London without a car & the supermarket is less than a kilometer away.
I have a 'personal shopping / "granny" cart' that I use pretty often.

They are a bit dorky I guess, but seriously, I use it say once a week to go to and from the supermarket. I'm not really worried about looking dorky for about 1 hour a week if it means I don't have to strain myself dragging home bags of heavey groceries. Its th emost practical solution. Similar to this one but solid grey material:


I got it from for about £10 from opne of those bits and bobs places 2 years ago.
posted by mary8nne at 5:15 AM on July 23, 2009

I used to use a Radio Flier wagon, which I locked with a bike lock outside the store, although I probably could have brought it in with me. Also used it to haul the small children who seemed continually to be tagging along after me, as though I was their mother or something.
posted by nax at 5:29 AM on July 23, 2009

Delivery? I hear delivery costs are actually pretty reasonable. Never looked into it closely, though.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2009

I use this IKEA cart on the bus and walking up to a mile uphill at a time to do my shopping. I love it because it can fit into small places (the bottom of the L folds up), is extremely maneuverable and is easy to pick up when I need to go up stairs or something. I usually hang one IKEA bag off the hook and smaller cloth bags on top with fragile purchases.

The only time I don't use it is when I do a kitty litter and kibble run. Then I use a folding cart like this one (I got it much cheaper, not from there). It holds 60 lbs., and it is easier to wrangle heavy dense stuff in it, especially going up hill.

I've tried a couple other kinds of carts, and they break quickly and just don't seem to work well for the kind of shopping I do.

(I've had horrible luck with delivery, you have to sit for hours waiting and they don't always show.)
posted by QIbHom at 10:21 AM on July 23, 2009

When I was wrangling a kid and groceries and whathaveyou up from underground parking up to my fourth floor apartment, I cherished my wonder wheeler ; it's tough because it's made for the beach. It'll carry about 100 pounds. It was handy when we moved, too ;)
posted by lemniskate at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2009

I'll probably go with one of the more upright-duffel-looking wheely carts. So many good options- thank you all so much!
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:52 PM on July 23, 2009

« Older DIY Backround checks   |   Where can I find volunteer opportunities in SF? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.