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SALT LAKE CITY - Smith's Food & Drug Stores and Fred Meyer Stores have installed electronic shopping cart containment systems that create invisible "fences" around parking lot perimeters at their Salt Lake City stores.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson welcomed the move as an example of corporate responsiveness to a community concern. "As small of an issue as stray shopping carts may seem, it really impacts the look and feel of many of our neighborhoods and poses significant risks for children who might play with the carts," said Anderson. "The willingness of Smith's and Fred Meyer to take action and expend resources to make our community better is commendable and an example for other businesses in Salt Lake City."
Smith's is using The Wheel Cart Containment System at six stores, while Fred Meyer is using the K-2000 Kart Saver System at its downtown store.
"Smith's strives to be a good neighbor. The issue of abandoned shopping carts has been of mounting concern to some communities, and while we have been diligent in retrieving them, we believe this electronic system will help us keep neighborhoods free of Smith's carts," said Marsha Gilford, Smith's spokesperson. "Each cart costs about $100, and those costs quickly mount up when carts disappear."
Smith's has been testing the system for several months at one of its stores in Las Vegas, Nev. The system works through a special wheel that will self-brake when electronically activated by a low-frequency signal emitted by a buried cable. Cart wheels then unlock through a remote control device for reuse.
Fred Meyer uses a different approach called the K-2000 Kart Saver System. Instead of underground wires, it utilizes a radio-transmitted signal that is activated when a cart leaves the building and can be adjusted for different distances. When the cart reaches the preset distance, a beeping sound starts and then the signal locks one of the front wheels at an angle so the cart rolls in a circle.
"We have set our system to permit carts to go as far as the bus stop on 5th East," Bart Hoerner, store director at the Downtown Fred Meyer, said. "We installed it only at our Downtown store because daily cart loss there was much higher than any other Fred Meyer store in Utah. On average, we were losing about 50 carts a day at that store. Yesterday, only six of the 300 carts we have modified so far were missing, and we expect even better results in the future. This system is in use at two other Fred Meyer stores in Portland, Oregon where it has virtually eliminated cart loss."
Smith's and Fred Meyer are both divisions of The Kroger Co.