The return of the shopping trolley

As a kid growing up in Brisbane in the 1960s, I found these old school shopping trolleys were a common sight. You know, the little two wheeled ones, usually with a tartan pattern. This sort of thing:


My recollection is they were mostly used by older ladies, and often seen on public transport. Getting them on the buses of that time wasn’t easy – only one narrow door and three steps and a baggage area at the front – but people did it regularly. Shopping was different then, as supermarkets weren’t common and people got lots of things home delivered – papers, milk, even a fruit and vege truck did the rounds once or twice a week. And of course, Mr Whippy was a regular for the kids’ ice creams. Greensleeves was the tune of choice.

But I digress. As suburban development boomed and transport and shopping changed to the suburban shopping mall, the shopping trolleys were replaced by this:


The car became the four wheeled shopping trolley, and with lots more capacity. Shopping became an outing by car and we starting buying a lot more at a time. Now is it just me, or does everyone find hauling the bags out of your car a pain (as nicely captured in this video)?

So the old shopping trolleys all but disappeared in the 1970s and following decades.

But in the last decade or so, farmers markets, fresh food markets and all sorts of other alternatives to supermarkets have emerged as places to buy food. Like this mid week one in the centre of Brisbane:


And more people started living where walking, cycling or using public transport is a practical way to get around. These markets tend to be inner city, where more people can walk or catch public transport. And our buses and trains are much more user friendly for things with wheels. 

And what do you know – the old fashioned shopping trolley has made a comeback. There is even a term for it: Granny chic and famous people are pictured using them. The trolleys come in all shapes, sizes, prices and fashions – even Louis Vutton have a version! 
I think this is more than just fashion. As people rediscover inner city lifestyles and embrace other ways of getting around, the old shopping trolley has become practical again. 

So I reckon the shopping trolley could be considered an indicator species of urban living. I look forward to reports of them in your city!

Greg Vann

June 2016

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