…can be found at The Stray Shopping Cart Project.
Like the ghetto palm, stray shopping carts are one of those curious little aspects of the contemporary urban landscape that are kinda everywhere but that often go unnoticed.
When I was a youngun, I lived near a grocery store where customers had to plug a quarter into the shopping cart in order to use it. When you were done, you’d plug the cart back into the corral in front of the store, and the quarter would pop back out. I spent the occasional evening with a friend rounding up strays from the neighboring blocks and noisily pushing them back to the corral to harvest change for a snack.
In my current neighborhood, though, I never see stray shopping carts. The North Side is a food desert, left to depend on maybe two or three large, mainstream big box supermarkets and a smattering of often mediocre corner stores. So, there isn’t much of anywhere for carts to come from in the first place. Scrapping is common here, and shopping carts are the preferred tools of the many, many scrappers who do not have motor vehicles. So, supply is low and demand is high. When I see a shopping cart up here, it is always somebody’s property.
Just a few thoughts, for the next time you see one of these stragglers drifting slowly across an alley….