ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) – Imagine running an errand at a local store and having no way to bring along a disabled family member.
How would you carry them if they could not walk?
This vision for the disabled started with Caroline, who has never spoken a word or taken one step.
“When I would go to the store, I would just use and put her in the traditional carts,” said Drew Ann Long, Caroline’s mother. “I could use what retailers provided. But when she turned about 7 or 8-years-old, she had gotten bigger of course and she just didn’t fit in anything. 15-years-old, I shouldn’t be shoving her in the back of a cart.”
Because the experience was so frustrating, Long sketched out an idea on a napkin and 8 years later, Caroline’s Cart is in stores across the U.S. and four other countries.
“Just through research I realized there was no special needs shopping cart,” said Long. “There had never been a special needs shopping cart and I was really surprised.”
Courtney Jones, a Target store manager said he has seen more special needs families come into the store.
“We try to listen to feedback from our guests as well as our team members, so we’re definitely excited to do something that allows our shopping experience to be much more pleasurable and comfortable for our guests,” said Jones.
Long said she feels it was laid on her heart to do something, so she answered the call to action.
“One of the things that’s the hardest for special needs families is that we want that sense of normalcy,” said Long. “We want, if nothing else, to be able to shop with our children and stop on the fly. Where before we didn’t have an option.”
Caroline’s Cart is also fit for adults with disabilities. Services are now offered at Target, Publix and Kroger stores across the nation, but Long said she’s working to convince other major retailers to make shopping more accessible to families with special needs members.