Grocery carts come in all shapes, sizes and styles these days to meet shoppers’ needs and those of their children.
But for Hall County resident Katie Karlton Harrison, none of the choices fit the special needs of her son, Hawk, who is now 4 years old.
“He was just growing out of the other options,” she said.
So Harrison began asking managers at the Kroger in the New Holland shopping center in Gainesville to acquire a “Caroline’s Cart.”
According to carolinescart.com, “it provides parents and caregivers a viable option to transport a child through a store while grocery shopping, without having the impossible task of having to maneuver a wheelchair and a traditional grocery cart at the same time. It is named after Caroline, the special-needs daughter of Drew Ann and David Long.”
Harrison said the Kroger is her preferred store because it is close to her home. It’s also where she fills prescriptions for Hawk, who experiences frequent seizures after suffering from a brain hemorrhage as a newborn.
But Hawk was getting too big for the typical kids’ carts, and Harrison would have to lay him sideways on a soft pad to keep him comfortable while she shopped.
So once she heard about Caroline’s Cart, she began asking management to acquire one and even had her friends call to support the idea.
“They've been great,” she said of pharmacy staff members and management.
Store Manager Rex Thayer said Kroger acquired a Caroline’s Cart about a month ago and he expects to see “more and more people” using it as it becomes better known.
“Once he grasped the concept, he did it all,” Harrison said of Thayer.
Dwayne Terry, assistant store manager, said a Kroger employee already has used the cart to carry their own special-needs child, and because it’s equipped to serve all ages and sizes of children (and includes a five-point harness), many families can benefit.
Terry said the cart allows the children to stay connected to their parents and feel more comfortable while in the store.
“I see you, big helper,” Harrison said while talking to Hawk as she shopped at the Kroger Friday afternoon. “He feels like a big boy now.”