Why Target Is Rolling Out New Shopping Carts

Big-box store Target has taken the lead in unveiling some groundbreaking changes to the way their customers shop — like doing away with sex-specific toy labels and launching a kids’ home decor line that relies on more gender-neutral colors rather than pink and blue.

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Now comes a move inspired in part by the parents and caregivers of special-needs kids. Beginning next month, Target will roll out new shopping carts engineered to accommodate kids (and adults too) with physical disabilities.

The carts, called Caroline’s Carts, were named after the daughter of an Alabama couple who realized that their daughter, who has Rett syndrome, would soon outgrow the seat of a traditional shopping cart.

Eight years ago, they designed a cart with some genius disability-friendly features, such as a wider seat, adjustable harness safety straps, three brakes to keep the cart from rolling away with someone in it, and six wheels instead of four for better maneuvering.

The seat of the cart tilts forward, so people with low muscle tone have an easier time sitting up, says Alice Little, sales and marketing coordinator for Technibilt (the company that manufactures the carts), in an interview with Yahoo Parenting. “Caroline’s Carts have slowly caught on with retailers, including national giants like supermarket chain Kroger.”

Target execs heard about the carts from customers as well as a Target employee at corporate headquarters in Minneapolis who is the parent of a special-needs child, Target spokeswoman Kristy Welker tells Yahoo Parenting. 

The company began testing them in February 2015. The response from parents and caregivers was overwhelmingly positive, says Welker. “We’re always looking for ways to make shopping more fun and easier, and we realized that having the carts would alleviate stress for caregivers,” she says.

Disability rights activists see the carts as a win-win for Target and its customers. “They help make people with disabilities more visible, which sends the message that they’re part of the community and reminds people that they can have a normal life,” Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, tells Yahoo Parenting. By opening up access to their stores, retailers boost their revenue, he says.

“The carts are an extension of other efforts stores have been making to increase accessibility, from widening and clearing aisles to offering motorized carts,” says Decker. “With little investment, they increase their customers.”

Top photo: Technibilt; bottom photo: Target

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