This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 29, 2007 5:14 AM. The previous post in this blog was Question of the Day. The next post in this blog is 'Tis the season to be correct. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Watch the spinning wheel spin

The state starts cracking down on grocers who don't give a darn that their shopping carts are sitting around, abandoned and cluttering up neighborhoods. Even the regional public affairs director for Safeway, himself a former political affairs vice president for the grocery association, notes that it's been difficult to get stores to care. Under a new state law allowing cities to impose fines for unretrieved carts, several cities are getting ready to put the fines on their books. In fear that even tougher regulations are on the way, a group of grocers establishes a hot line for residents to call if an abandoned cart is spotted.

O.k., journalism students: What should the headline on this story be?

"New law forces grocers to get off dime"? "Grocers must toe line on wayward carts or face fines"?

Well, of course, not if you're the O, whose doubtlessly dwindling ad revenue comes largely from grocery stores. No, in that paper, you know you're going to get something like:

"Oregon's grocers, cities devise way to call in stray carts."

That's that independent journalistic spirit that inspires such confidence in the readership. A proud Newhouse tradition. Along with the time-honored rule: Anything bad that ever happens in or around a large retail store isn't important.

Comments (18)

But abandoned grocery carts give the neighborhoods texture and show a diversity of population.

Not everybody has a Range Rover or Ford Exhibition.

Headline: Scofflaws drag grocers into diversity discussion.

"Victims Must Retrieve Stolen Property or Pay Fine"

Freddy has people going around picking theirs up. Would think the other stores would do the same as they are not cheap.

It's false to assume grocery stores don't care that their carts go missing. They're expensive (several hundred dollars), and there are many freelancers who round up stray carts and make a living off the bounty. There's a market because stores do care about getting them back.

At my New Seasons store, we lock up our small carts every night with daisy-chained bike cables. But occasionally, people who walk everywhere will take a cart home with them or leave it at the bus stop/MAX station. It happens, and I'm not sure how much more grocers can do. It will always be a problem.

It seems to me that if someone "steals/borrows" a grocery cart they should be the ones paying a fine or at least made to return the cart. Why aren't they being held responsible? Oh yeah, I forgot, this is happening in Portland where no one is reponsible for their behavior as there are no consequences.
Unless of course, you have deep pockets.

Aren't grocery carts our social safety net for the homeless?

In some bizarre coincidence of thought, I saw a homeless person maneuvering a shopping cart, swollen with black plastic bags of worldly possessions, (I suppose), this weekend.

My thought was: The cost of the cart is more than the cost of a plastic portable outhouse, or a 'chamber' that size. It'd be cheaper to give away cell-sized 'residence rooms' (think: horizontal angle, as in sleeping), for the homeless ... and save a ton o'money on stolen shopping carts.

The Winco in Beaverton stopped providing the small hand-carried baskets because they kept being stolen. And they added locks to the large carts that electronically lock up a front wheel if the cart is taken past the perimeter of the parking lot.

Tenskwatawa, cheaper for who? who pays for the stolen carts in the first place.

How is this the fault of grocery stores? They're victims of theft. And I don't know about anyone else, but I can't remember the last time I saw a stray shopping cart that wasn't attached to a street derelict.

Oh yeah, damn those fat cats at The Oregonian. Those clowns have done it again. What a bunch of clowns.

This is another one of those idiot laws (ARE YOU LISTENING FIREBOY RANDY?) that will larfely do nothing over the long term, except punish the store owners. And guess who gets to pay for it in higher prices?

Just yesterday night I learned what a PITA it is to find all the paint at my local Baxter Auto Parts locked up. I was after a small bottle of touch up paint for one of our vehicles, and discovered that all the spray paints as well as other paint related items were all locked up in the same aisle. Even though I did not purchase any spray paint, I was asked to log into their paint book. Pretty silly, since a two ounce bottle of touch up paint will likely cover very little of a wall.

The grocery stores hereabouts haven't made much of an effort to deter off-premises "use" of their carts. Some fairly easy measures used elsewhere: bollards; coin deposits. If such measures (or the collection of stray carts) were desirable as a business matter. the stores would not need to be prompted to use them. As it is, who's going to deal with this problem if not the cart owners?


"who's going to deal with this problem if not the cart owners?"

How about the police? Don't they typically deal with cases of stolen property?

Look at it from a neighbor's viewpoint. A big retailer leaves a huge footprint on a residential neighborhood. As residential infill presses more stores into neighborhoods, the residents will invariably feel the unintended impact such a large operation will have on the livability of their homes.

From someone who's had this experience -- there needs to be some mechanism in place to hold their feet to the fire, otherwise the ONLY thing that gets their attention is a legal citation or civil suit. The effects of a large retail market moving in next door to my house? 50% more ambient noise, threefold increase in traffic and parking, delivery trucks blocking driveways and driving over yards, tons more garbage, shopping carts littering the sidewalks and streets, employees using neighborhood yards as smoking lounges... the list goes on, and my neighbor is New Seasons, who prides themselves on how well they get along with their neighbors. Some of this is the inevitable effects of urbanization, but much can be prevented if the stores would try to be good neighbors. Laws like this are the result of bad behavior, not bad legislation.

How about the police?

In your dreams. The police can't even be bothered with actual theft of valuable property (such as, say, a car), so why would they spend time and public resources on stray carts that aren't really stolen and have minimal value?

Allan L, police won't "spend time and public resources" because we have a police commissioner, city government that will spend money for a web network, tram, trolleys, numerous studies, visioning quests, etc., but won't prioritize money for car thefts, and shopping cart theft. They will divert $69 MILLION from the general fund budget this past fiscal year, the amount of reduction created by urban renewal. This amount would pay for additional police enforcement. Criminal activity is a part of blight, and that is what urban renewal is suppose to fix, but is creating in several circumstances.

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