Monday, October 14, 2019

Invention of shopping carts by Sylvan Goldman in 1937

Born on November 15, 1898 in the small town of Ardmore, Oklahoma, Sylvan Goldman was bred to be a grocery man.

By April 1920, Goldman opened Sun Grocery Company, the state’s first “supermarket,” a massive complex that featured “all different types of food” and aself-service policy. The franchise was wildly popular and experienced miraculous growth: within three years, Goldman was operating 55 stores throughout Tulsa.

From the 1920s some shops made wicker baskets available for their customers’ used. Sylvan N. Goldman, observing his customers, noted the limitation placed on the volume of purchases by the size and weight of the shopping basket.

Goldman came to the realization that “[his] problem as an entrepreneur was no different than the problem [his] customers faced while shopping”: in order to sell more food, he’d have to figure out a way for his customers to carry less food.

Sitting in his office one day in 1935, Goldman's eye strayed to a chair which suddenly seemed to offer a solution to the problem he was mulling--how to sell more groceries. “If the seat of a folding chair was raised several inches and another similar seat added below, a basket could be placed on each of them. Wheels attached to each leg would make the chair mobile, and the back of the chair could be adapted as a handle to push the cart”.

Goldman instructed Fred Young, a handyman employed in one of his shops, to develop the system. There were a number of problems: for instance the cart tended to return to the state of a chair and to fold up when the wheels bumped into something, or to tip over when going round corners. After a few months of work the shopping cart, equipped with two wire mesh baskets, was finally ready.
Invention of shopping carts by Sylvan Goldman in 1937

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