The first shopping cart in the United States was patented in 1940 by Sylvan Goldman. The cart had two baskets that sat on a folding frame, one on the top and one on the bottom. Grocery stores were much smaller than they are today, and there wasn’t much storage space for carts. When not in use, the baskets were removed from the frame and stacked, and the frame was folded. While great for storage, the carts weren’t so convenient for shoppers.
In 1946, Orla Watson improved on Goldman’s design with his “Telescoping Shopping Cart,” a cart that could nest with others for easy and more compact storage. As the marketing brochure boasted, the carts took up one-fifth the space of a regular cart and saved floor space “right in front of the door where it is most valuable.” The telescoping carts also made it easier for shoppers to retrieve and return carts. The first telescoping carts were used in Floyd Day’s Super Market in Kansas City, Missouri in 1947.
Watson applied for a patent on his shopping cart invention in 1946, but Goldman filed a similar patent and fought Watson’s claim. Goldman eventually gave up, and Watson received a patent for the invention. In return, Watson granted Goldman licensing rights for the telescoping shopping, allowing him to manufacture and sell shopping carts—and ensuring that Watson received royalties for each cart Goldman made.
Though the “power lift” of Watson’s original design—a feature that raised a bottom basket on the cart up to the height of the conveyor belt—hasn’t survived, the telescoping feature certainly has. In fact, shopping carts have changed very little in the last 60+ years. As we explore Things That Roll in Spark!Lab, we have been asking kids and parents how they would improve the shopping cart. Visitors can examine Watson’s sketches and patent drawing, and are invited to share their ideas by writing or drawing on the chalkboard.
Nearly every day someone suggests that shopping carts should have chargers for our phones and other electronics.
Many visitors would like grocery carts with defined areas for specific items: a cold compartment for refrigerated foods, a bin lined with soft material (“maybe like Bubble wrap”) for thin-skinned fruits and vegetables, and a place to keep items like cleaning products separate from food.
Innovation is endless.Youbang,as a designer,manufacturer of shopping carts, has always been committing ourselves to improving the shopping trolley in order to satisfy the customers’ increasing demand.