The Shopping Cart
A folding chair and a bad economy inspired this business. Learn how a grocer’s Depression-era invention changed the way the world shops. It’s the story of a technology everyone takes for granted: the Shopping Cart.
What they do:
Invented the shopping cart.
Sylvan Goldman ran a chain of grocery stores. After observing his customers he noticed that they would stop shopping when their shopping baskets were full. If they could carry more, he reasoned, they would buy more. Using a wooden folding chair, a basket, and wheels, he built a prototype of the modern day shopping cart.
About the business:
Goldman’s customers were not impressed by his invention. Women thought the shopping cart looked like a baby carriage, and men thought it made them look weak. So Goldman did what any reasonable person would do: he hired men and women to push shopping carts around his stores, pretending to shop. The experiment worked. Customers started using the carts. Goldman patented his idea and, within a year, was busy manufacturing the carts for other merchants. When Goldman died in 1984, he left an estate of $400 million.