An innovative shopping cart designed by a creative mother for children with special needs is quickly becoming popular across retailers and major outlets across the country.
The Alabama mother, Drew Ann Long created Caroline’s Cart with the aim of making grocery shopping easier for mothers of children with special needs, like herself. According to her, Pushing a wheelchair and shopping cart at the same time is quite difficult.
Drew Ann and David Long’s concerns began in 2000 when daughter Caroline was born with multiple disabilities. The mother discovered that as Caroline got older, it was becoming increasingly harder to place her into a traditional grocery cart and nearly impossible to maneuver a cart and her wheelchair.
“I was frustrated,” said Drew Ann. “Parents have access to amusement carts designed to look like miniature cars, and people with limited mobility can drive through the store in a motorized cart with wheels. However, as a mom who has to shop several times a week to provide food for my family, I had no way to shop with my disabled child—it was ludicrous.”
The cart features a large seat that is reachable using rotating handles on the back of the cart, and a harness that holds the child securely. In the past year, a chain of 19 grocery stores in Wisconsin, the Festival Foods chain, made the carts available in their stores. It’s the second chain in the U.S. to do so, after a one in South Bend, Indiana.
“Every business decision we make is based on the question, ‘Will it bring the customer back?’” Festival Foods President & CEO Mark Skogen said. “We believe that providing these carts for our guests who need them was the right thing to do.”
In the past few years, the cart has grown from a concept that Long designed at her dining room table, nurtured and went through several prototypes and edits before launching in an initial manufacturing run of 100 carts.
The cart has received great support from people all over the world and has gained fans from major parts of the country through a grassroots marketing effort on Facebook.
“Our goal is to enable special needs children to more easily be included in their family’s every-day life by making Caroline’s Cart™ available at retailers across the country,” said Drew Ann. “David and I made a commitment that this cart was going to happen—parents and caregivers of disabled children should have access to this. It is the right thing to do.”