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Help Wayward Shopping Carts Find Their Way Home

Bothered by those market shopping carts miles from their home lot? How did they get there? No matter: The important thing is to call the store. They'll pick them up.

A year ago we received a message from Tom James, who has led the effort to keep Novato clear of graffiti for the past few years. He and a few other volunteers set their sights set on gathering up abandoned shopping carts. 

James received help from Toni Shroyer, a real estate agent and public advocate; Dave Meyers, head of the city's maintenance division; and Gloria Morgan of that department. Dozens of carts were returned to stores.

There appeared to be an influx of random carts in the Scottsdale Pond area over the past few days. Concerned residents such as Janet Tighe and John O'Malley recently contacted Patch to see what could be done.

"The abandoned shopping carts stuffed with trash are a loss to merchants," Tighe wrote. "Let's hope and trust those same carts are thoroughly washed before customers unknowingly use them. Shopping carts and household trash left at the park suggest that some people cannot afford transportation nor the services of Novato Disposal."

Another resident, who preferred to remain nameless here, sent the following note to Meyers at the city maintenance office:

"Our neighborhood is important to us. We all take pride in living here in Novato. This looks terrible and reflects poorly on our community as well as the City of Novato. Please take the necessary measures and have these carts removed from the area." 

Then on Monday, the President's Day holiday, somebody swept in an cleaned it up.

"Every scrap, furniture, shopping carts and God knows what else, has been cleaned up and taken away," Tighe wrote Monday night. "That's a very timely response, and whoever is responsible for following through has my gratitude. Case closed."  

If it happens again, you don't have to wait until the situation gets bad before taking action. You can take the pressure off the city and just pick up the phone. If you find a shopping cart anywhere but the store lot where it belongs, give a call to the one of the numbers below. Most shopping carts are clearly marked with the owner’s name. Be prepared to let the store contact know where you have found the shopping cart so they can send someone to pick it up.

Remember, you don’t have to do anything more than call the responsible store. Don’t take the cart home with you as this could only add to the problem: Someone else may have already called in the location.  

The following list is organized alphabetically by store with a contact phone number. Just ask for a store manager. All numbers area code 415 unless noted.

  • CVS
    897-1111
     
  • DOLLAR TREE (Novato Fair)
    893-9020
     
  • DOLLAR TREE (Ignacio)
    884-0349 
  • GROCERY OUTLET
    898-1779
     
  • HARVEST MARKET
    898-1925
     
  • LUCKY 
    897-4891
  • PARADISE FOODS
    883-4600
  • PET FOOD EXPRESS
    (510) 347-7777
     (home office)
  • PINI ACE HARDWARE                    
    892-1577
     
  • RITE AID
    898-1905
     
  • SAFEWAY (Hamilton Marketplace)
    881-9256 
  • SAFEWAY (Novato Fair)
    898-1503
     
  • TARGET
    892-3313 

Novato police ask that people call stores rather than police when seeing somebody pushing a shopping cart anywhere besides a store parking lot.

When this story ran in 2012, Matthew James Dodson added this:

California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corp. picks up abandoned shopping carts for the Novato-area CVS, Safeway and Savemart. The fastest way to get a driver dispatched to those stores is to report the location to www.cartretrieval.net or download the CartSnap iPhone application from the Apple App Store.

If you have more information to add to this list, leave a comment.

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Tom James February 19, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Renee, At least Steven has the courage to sign his name. Unfortunately he speaks the truth. All you have to do is drive west on Rowland toward Leafwood to see where the carts are headed. Or go west from Safeway to Center. I just saw a woman with a toddler, a baby in a Safeway shopping cart, heading home on DeLong. The sad thing is these folks seem not to care that these carts are expensive and in fact they are stealing. When I was a toddler, and we had no car, my mother walked with me carrying two cloth shopping bags the four blocks home from the market. By the way I just painted over some graffiti on a fence on Leafwood yesterday, probably for at least the sixth time. Who do you think is responsible for the graffiti?
Tom James February 20, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Well at least Renee, no-last-name, hasn't called me a racist, yet! Toni Shroyer wants to organize a shopping cart pick-up effort. I can unload the paint from my graffiti van and we can use it to haul carts back to Vintage Oaks. I should add that the bus stop seems like a popular place for the carts to be dropped indicating they aren't all heading to Leafwood. Do I have any other volunteers beside Toni. Toni volunteers for everything. She personally does more to keep our City livable than the next twenty people in line. Another possibility is for a Council member or two or three to call a meeting with the management of the Vintage Oaks and pressure them to hire the firm to pick up the carts. I know that such a company exists because when Toni and I contacted some of the retailers who own the carts they told us they employed this firm. It just has to be done more frequently and if spread out over all the stores with carts, a sweep could probably be done every day. I do think abandoned shopping carts appear almost as bad as graffiti. Something we just don't need in our town. Perhaps another possibility is for one or more of the people who "borrow" the carts to be stopped by a policeman and at least be admonished that what they are doing is stealing.
Renee February 20, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Gee Mr.James Racist never crossed my mind!! PLEASE. I also know Mrs. Shroyer and have confided in her on many issues!
Brent Ainsworth February 20, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Great reminder, Susan. I hope lots of people get involved. Reminder to high school students that volunteering at events like this count toward your community service hours.
Ron Jimenez March 28, 2013 at 02:45 PM
To get rid of lost and abandoned shopping carts, try CartSnap, a free iPhone app that immediately reports the lost cart to the retrieval service. On the App Store:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cartsnap/id412776250?mt=8 and online at www.cartsnap.com as well as www.returnshoppingcarts.com.

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