Photo courtesy of Caroline’s Cart.
0213 Caroline's Cart
The Crook family of Hoover, including daughter Katie, who has special needs, are excited to welcome Caroline’s Cart to nearby Belle Foods.
If Hoover is one of America’s “great places to live,” Belle Foods just made it better. The grocer recently began offering Caroline’s Cart, a shopping cart designed by Alabaster mother Drew Ann Long. Long imagined, prototyped and brought to market the cart, which accommodates special needs children who have outgrown or cannot use traditional shopping cart models.
Positive shopper response has been immediate, including Hoover mother of three Cindy Crook. For Crook, whose oldest, 9-year-old Katie, has an undiagnosed neurological condition, Caroline’s Cart makes a task that is mundane to most – grocery shopping with the kids in tow – simply possible.
“Katie is the most incredible blessing ever and has brought so much joy to our lives,” Crook said. “She crawls, sits up, smiles, laughs and so much more. But she has a lot of challenges. She cannot walk or talk. So going to the grocery store presents a bit of a challenge. Can you imagine pushing a wheelchair and pulling a grocery cart, all while trying to control two other small kids?”
That frustration is exactly what led Long, whose own daughter, Caroline, for whom the cart is named, to invent the product and follow through the tedious process of bringing it to market.
“When Caroline outgrew what retailers provided, typical shopping carts and fun carts, I began my journey,” Long said. “I realized that a special needs shopping cart did not exist.”
Area mothers like Crook have praised Long for taking her parental frustration and turning it into a solution.
“As a special needs family we work hard to make our lives as ‘normal’ as possible and when something like this comes along, it helps us achieve that family goal,” Crook said. “Caroline’s Cart allows me to push Katie and the groceries together. She’s comfortable in it, which makes her happy, and that allows me to concentrate on shopping for my family. It’s a time-saver, but more importantly, it gives Katie the experience of shopping with us.”
Belle Foods is the first retailer in the state of Alabama to carry Caroline’s Cart. For families like the Crooks, it’s a decision that makes a huge impact on her family, and an example she’d like to see other Hoover businesses follow.
“Going out of your way to make sure all customers have what they need makes such a difference in our lives,” Crook said. “Belle Foods taking the initiative to be the first business in the area to carry these carts shows they care. In our world that means more than I could ever say.”
And while Belle Foods has established itself as the local pacesetter, Long is facing increasing demand from near and far.
“We are receiving emails from families from all over the world,” Long said. “Caroline’s Cart fills an unmet need in the retail industry, and the need is global.”
For more information on Caroline’s Cart, visit carolinescart.com.