Friday, February 09, 2007

What a Difference a Quarter Makes

Tonight I went grocery shopping at Bigg's for the first time in years. Between Jungle Jim's, Trader Joe's, Wild Oats, Super Walmart, and Kroger (for quick things), I haven’t needed to go there. However, I’ve been disappointed with my Kroger shopping experiences lately, so I went to Bigg's on Mason-Montgomery to pick up a few things. The store has changed a lot. They recently altered the configuration to compete with the deli, prepared food, and natural food offerings at Wild Oats and Kroger. I like the variety of items and choices at Biggs. It is easier for them to stock the variety because unlike Kroger they don’t have crummy Kroger store brand products displacing good products off the shelf. However, the biggest change I noticed was the shopping carts.

When we first went to Bigg's many, many years ago, you needed a quarter to get a shopping cart. When all the carts were stacked in a line, each cart was attached to the one ahead of it with a chain connected to a release mechanism on the cart. You needed to insert a quarter in the mechanism to release the chain. The quarter stayed in the mechanism until you returned the cart to the corral and connected it with the stack. When you reattached the chain, you got your quarter back.

The purpose was to get people to return their carts to the cart corral rather than leaving them all over the parking lot after they loaded things into their car. It worked! I remember Dianne commenting on that when we were shopping one cold winter evening. There wasn’t a single lone cart in the lot. If someone was cold and lazy and left their cart in their parking space, someone else would return it to get an extra quarter. That 25 cent incentive was a great way to keep the carts organized.

The problem was sometimes you didn’t have a quarter and so you’d have to go into the store, get change, go back out to get a cart, and then go in to shop. That was a pain. Eventually the service desk got tired of making change and just gave you a quarter to save time.

On my way to Bigg's I was digging in my ash tray to find a quarter. It was about 20 degrees outside. I noticed quite a few carts scattered across the lot when I turned in to park. As I got closer I noticed all the chain mechanisms had been taken off the carts. Without that incentive, people just left the cart where it was after they loaded the car. About 20% of the carts in the lot were loose. I bet the number of stray carts is inversely related to the air temperature. What a difference a quarter can make!

And yes, I did return my cart to the corral.

1 comment:

Erika said...

Ah I used to work at that Bigs! Yes as a cashier we would just give you a quarter. It was to time consuming to make change :-D I can't believe they got rid of the whole quarter thing though!