by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
All shoppers have regretfully come in contact with it at one time or another — the grocery cart that seems to have a mind of its own.
The wobbly shopping cart wheel is something the Downtown Winn-Dixie is taking active steps to eliminate from its fleet. James Scott of Willcutt Shopping Cart and Upholstery Service has over a decade of experience in cart repair and retrieval. He stopped by Store No. 37 Friday morning to pick up a load of shopping carts to install retention systems on the new black and red carts.
“I operated this business for 14 years in California before deciding to move to Jacksonville to retire,” said Scott. “(Retiring) didn’t quite work out, so I’ve started up the business here.”
Scott will install electronic retention devices on the shopping carts to keep them within Winn-Dixie’s parking lot at Market Street, which is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and electronic barrier. The carts have a red bar on the right back wheel, and this bar will lock down on the wheel if the cart is taken out of the parking lot because of the electronic barrier.
Scott also acts as a shopping cart cowboy and cruises Jacksonville neighborhoods looking for carts that have escaped from Winn-Dixie property.
“They save money by having me retrieve them,” said Scott. “It’s not easy though. Some people don’t want to give them up.”
The carts equipped with the electronic locks cost about $150, so Winn-Dixie is glad to have Scott’s services.
“He definitely fills a niche to help us keep shopping carts at the store,” said Milton Corley, project specialist for Winn-Dixie. “He is a great help for keeping carts in our stores and available to our customers.”
Losing carts was common for the Downtown store before renovations began, but the new retention system has all but eliminated that problem.
“We haven’t lost any carts since the renovations were completed on the parking lot,” said Juan Mott, store manager. “The wrought iron fencing and the electronic barrier have helped.”
The store will celebrate its grand reopening on July 9.