Who's stealing all the tiny shopping carts at King Soopers?!

People like to bash the suburbs for everything from cookie-cutter homes to water-sucking, park-like lawns to super-sized shopping centers that force people to drive. But the inner city has a few problems of its own — and walkability, oddly, is one of them. At least when it comes to those miniature shopping carts that some of the grocery chains rolled out a few years ago.

"What happened to the grocery carts?" a Capitol Hill shopper asked us. "About a year ago, King Soopers introduced these cool little grocery carts that were bigger than a handheld basket but smaller than the big, giant limo carts. They were perfect for getting a few groceries in, and because they were small, you could maneuver around other shoppers more easily. Great, too, for older people who can't manage the giant ones. Then they started to disappear, and now they're all gone. I was told by a worker at Ninth and Corona that people were stealing them as fast as they could put them out. And they cost something like $250 apiece. I think it's disgusting that now they're all sitting in people's garages and yards, collecting dust. Maybe a nice Westword exposé would shame the greedy nitwits who felt they had to steal them, though I doubt they'll return them."

No exposé needed: We obtained a quick confession. "It's true. They just get stolen," says King Soopers spokeswoman Kelli McGannon. "And, yes, people did like them, apparently so much that they brought them home. We kept replacing them and they keep stealing them."

The problem is worse in urban areas — not just in Capitol Hill, but at other stores in neighborhoods where people could simply roll away with the carts rather than have to carry their groceries home to their apartments, condos or houses.

But after McGannon took a trip to the King Soopers at 1155 East Ninth Avenue on Monday to check out the scene, she reports that there are still plenty of the smaller carts available. Still, the company is looking into adding technology that locks the wheels of the carts once they go a certain distance from the store; most of the larger carts are already equipped with it. In fact, those locks have been so efficient on the big carts that the chain has pretty much done away with the cart-retrieval truck that used to roam neighborhood streets, looking for stolen carts left in alleys and on sidewalks.

But if the smaller carts, which are easier to hide in garages and on porches, keep disappearing, King Soopers may come up with another solution: simply stop ordering new ones. "At some point," McGannon notes, "you have to stop, because it's just not viable anymore."

And cart theft isn't the only trouble that King Soopers has had with shopping-cart innovations. In February 2011, the grocery company unveiled its first TVKart, a car-shaped shopping cart complete with a TV inside for kids to watch while they rode around the stores. At the time, McGannon told news outlets that the goal was to entertain the kids so that their parents could shop in peace. The TVs played animated Disney videos, but they also included a second screen that played ads for products available in the store.

All thirty Denver stores were supposed to get three TVKarts apiece. But then the company that made them — Illinois-based Cabco Group Limited — went out of business. It was a victim of the bad economy, McGannon says — not pilfering parents trying to keep their kids quiet.

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Big-boxed out: The developer who wants to put a Walmart near the corner of Eighth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard has more to contend with than missing shopping carts. One neighborhood group, Mayfair Neighbors, has posted an online survey at www.mayfairdenver.org, asking residents' opinions. And as of Monday, 91 percent of the respondents had said they are opposed or strongly opposed to the store, according to StopWalmartColorado.com, while only 5 percent support it.

 
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15 comments
CAMSHEEL
CAMSHEEL

Idea. Charge. $5.00. Take the persons name. Number the carts. Then when shopper returns the cart they get the money returned name checked off list. 1.00 is too easy for a fee.

william
william

Tip and idea for the grocery stores. Why not charge $1.00 for the cart usage and get a total refund when you return it to the same kiosk? Just like they do at airports except you get all of your money back. Also is an incentive to have others collect carts that wonder off.

Dough
Dough

The Safeway at Colfax and Garrison in Lakewood has these a couple of years ago. They lost a bunch , the clerk said people were selling them to recyclers. So away they went. Too bad, they were very handy and just the right size whne you are not shopping for a family.. The only way for these to work is keep them in the store,. like the plastic tote bins.

Eisenbug
Eisenbug

I used to live in a nice neighborhood, right down the street from a nice grocery store. I used to push my full cart down to my apartment, and leave it downstairs in the secure parking area. Every week or two, the store had a truck go around and pick up all the carts. They had keys to all the apartment buildings' car parks.

yahoo comment
yahoo comment

Those carts with the cars on the front for the kids is a BAD idea. They are simply too big to easily maneuver around the store - especially King Soopers, where they clog up the aisles with way too many floor displays.

Sickum Frank
Sickum Frank

Probably have them insured and don't care much like at TWA's hub in Saint Louis where 1/2 of East Saint Louis joined bagge handling in '78 to get their free stuff out of suitcases or Stapleton where the illegals would pull suitcases and head up to 88th & 76 for their sale.

Denver Lady
Denver Lady

People in apartments took them home, dandy little laundry carts....

NickLucchesi
NickLucchesi moderator communitymanager

If we see someone with one of these tiny shopping carts, do we approach them?

Roadkill
Roadkill

Cart theft is absolutely ridiculous in the Glendale area. I've found them along Cherry Creek. I think there are more carts at Mir Park than there are at the King Soopers in the area. I reported this to the local police and there response is to do nothing (which is typical for Glendale PD). Apparently, King Soopers feel that littering our park and neighborhoos with shopping is more cost efficient rather that prosecuting cart theft. In the end, we all pay for cart theft!

guest24
guest24

I don't understand how people can just steal things like this from businesses. Especially small local ones. It literally puts them out of business. I work at a local toy shoppe, which are a rare site these days, and the number one cause of our losses is theft. How can people say they support small businesses if they are the ones destroying them? In the end, whatever it is, you don't need it, if you can't afford it, don't take it.

Marissat
Marissat

Sheilah, this is a great idea but people would rather steal or "get it for free" than pay for it themselves. It is often funny that some people think that they really aren't stealing because these big stores can "afford" to buy more. I think the only way to get them to stop being taken is the locking mechanisms.

Gloria
Gloria

My children loved those carts with TVs in them. I didn't realize they were not ever going to be available again. That is really disappointing to hear. I made special trips to shop at stores that had them available.

Sheilah T. Davis
Sheilah T. Davis

I wonder if some enterprising soul can sell a cheaper version for people to buy and use in their garages and gardens. They could sell extra baskets to store tools in and what not. If people really like them, maybe they'd invest in them. Those locking mechanisms are nice. It is law in Aurora for new stores to have them installed on their shopping carts. We have less of a problem with abandoned carts ending up on neighborhood streets. It's a shame that companies have to do that though.

 
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