Sunday, February 7, 2010

Origins: The Wheeled Shopping Trolley

The first shopping cart was developed in 1937 by Sylvan Goodman, the owner of the Humpty Dumpty Supermarket chain in Oklahoma City. Looking at ways to increase profits to avoid ruin, he had noticed that shoppers did no further shopping when their carry basket was full. He based his design on a wooden folding chair with wheels, adding a metal basket. The invention did not catch on immediately. Men found them effeminate; women found them suggestive of a baby carriage. He overcame this by paying people to walk around the supermarkets using trolleys to do their shopping, thereby inspiring others to do the same. Shopping carts became extremely popular and Goldman became a multimillionaire. Goldman continued to make modifications to his original design.  The basket size of the shopping cart increased as stores realised that their customers purchased more as trolley size increased. At his death in 1984, Goldman was worth $400m.

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