Working from home, it’s relatively easy to minimize my potential exposure to the covid-19 virus—at least until I have to leave the safety of my suburban fortress of solitude every week to buy groceries. Even with safety precautions in place and a mask on my face it’s still an incredibly stressful experience, which is why I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of bringing my own shopping cart.
I’ve developed several strategies to help grocery shopping take less of a toll on my mental well-being, including only shopping late at night and avoiding the weekends at all cost. The one thing I can’t avoid, however, is handling a shopping cart. I want to believe that the teenager charged with sanitizing every shopping cart’s handle is doing as thorough a job as a surgeon scrubbing up for an invasive procedure, but not even I’m capable of those mental gymnastics. I usually have to grin and bear it, get my groceries, get out of the store, and hit the Purell once I’m clear. It’s exhausting, but it looks like there’s a better alternative.
The Shoppa Cart first debuted on Kickstarter a year ago but never popped up on my radar because a year ago the idea of bringing my own shopping cart to the grocery store would have seemed ludicrous. But a lot has changed since then—a lot—and now the Shoppa Cart looks like it could make grocery shopping about half as stressful as it’s been for the past 10 months.
Made from recyclable plastic, the Shoppa Cart looks like one of those plastic organizational bins you keep in the back of your car to prevent wiper fluid and gym shoes from sliding all over the place while you drive. But it features a set of folding legs with wheels that can be lowered and locked into place as you remove the bin from your car, not unlike a rolling stretcher as it’s being removed from an ambulance. In seconds it goes from a plastic bin to a fully functional shopping cart you can wheel directly into a store with the peace of mind of knowing that only you’ve handled it, not hundreds of shoppers before you.
It’s not quite as capacious as the giant carts your grocery store loans out, but the Shoppa Cart can be accessorized with a bottom shelf, as well as cup holders and a phone holder, and it even has a secret compartment for stashing your wallet and keys if you don’t have the pockets to hold them yourself. When you’ve checked out at the end of your shopping trip, you can wheel the Shoppa Cart right up to your vehicle and slide it on in without emptying it as the wheels retract in the process. It also means that when you get home, instead of schlepping bags into the house or up to your apartment, you can wheel the Shoppa Cart right into your kitchen to put everything away.
According to an Oct. 22 update on the Shoppa Cart’s Kickstarter page, it’s finally ready to move into production and its creators are confident that it could be shipped out to the earliest backers by late December. For the rest of us, early 2021 is probably a more accurate estimate of when one would arrive, but the good (?) news is that a covid-19 vaccine almost certainly won’t be available by then, and a BYO shopping cart will still be an excellent idea for those still playing it as safe as they can. With a price tag of around $150, it’s nowhere near as cheap as the shopping buggies senior citizens drag to stores with them. But even if and when the current pandemic is over, there will always be yearly flus and colds going around, and I, for one, am eager to never touch another shopping cart ever again.