Modern, four-wheeled shopping carts were invented around 1937 by Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Standard Food and Humpty Dumpty grocery store chains in Oklahoma. Before then, shoppers either used hand baskets or the two-wheeled kind of carts. They also shopped more often.
The four-wheeled carts paved the way for the rise of massive supermarkets and big-box stores, because they allowed shoppers to accumulate more stuff before heading to the checkout.
However, in later years Goldman revealed that shoppers were initially reluctant to use the four-wheeled carts. They reminded women of pushing a baby carriage, and men thought they were unmanly.
So Goldman hired attractive models to push the carts around his stores:
"When a customer entered, a young lady would offer a shopping cart. If the shopper hesitated, the woman would say, "See, other people are using them. Why not try it?"
"This was the gimmick that did the trick and the carts were then accepted without further difficulty," Goldman said.
Albuquerque Journal - Aug 27, 1976
Mar 12 - 1984