Cart Coins

Categories: Jacob's Mind, Shop

Like people nowadays, I don’t carry cash or coins on me. Most of the time this isn’t an issue as nearly everywhere takes credit cards or Interac now. But there is still one place where you need coins and that’s when getting shopping carts. Now most chains in Canada don’t have coin deposits for their carts, but a few major chains do (No Frills, FreshCo, and Wholesale Club require a deposit chain-wide. Some Metro, Food Basics, and Superstore locations do as well). So what can a person who doesn’t have change on them do about this? Well they can get a cart coin.

Yes, sometimes they’re free

Some chains offer their cart coins (if not unofficially) for free. Pictured below are the two cart coins I received just by asking for one at both a Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills location.

The silver cart coin on the left is from the Superstore I visited. It replaces a Loonie. The yellow coin on the right replaces a Quarter and is from a No Frills location.
To use the coins you simply remove the coin from the chain. The silver “coin” is the easiest to remove since you only have to pull down on it to get it. The yellow “coin” has to be unclipped. Both coins come with the chain and split ring, the larger silver clip is something I purchased at a local dollar store and is not included.

Both of these “coins” are quite convenient, simply attach them to a key-chain (as I did here) and you can bring them with you everywhere. I personally leave my cart coins in my car, ready to use whenever I need them.

And you can pay for them too (if you so choose)

Of course whenever there’s a consumer need someone in the free market will be there to fill it. One of these companies is LineAndArch3D (based in London Ontario) who has created a 3D printed cart coin.

Real coins not included with purchase and are merely used for scale.

What I love about these cart coins is that they can be used to release the cart without the need to remove the “coin” from the key-chain. This saves a bit of time and hassle fidgeting with the “coin” just to put it in the cart. It also helps prevent loss since the coin is always attached to your keychain. These coins are very durable despite being made of 3D printed plastic. I highly recommend them, and they’re available on Etsy for about $8 (at the time of writing this article).

What about cart deposits in the first place?

In my opinion, cart deposits are an ingenious idea. Why? Well simply put they work. Whenever I go to No Frills (who has cart deposits) it’s rare to find random carts abandoned in the parking lot, whereas Walmart (who doesn’t have cart deposits) will often have dozens of carts strewn all over the lot by lazy people. Cart deposits force customers to return their cart to the store, saving the store some money on staffing (no need to pay people to run everywhere collecting carts) and saving your car from the damage of a random cart pushed into it by the wind. It also helps prevent carts from being stolen and then later abandoned. Walmart is the worst offender, in Waterloo on Weber Street it is not uncommon to find 6 or so Walmart carts abandoned on the side of the road by students.

This deposit system should be an industry standard but unfortunately this probably won’t ever be the case. Some chains like Walmart and Food Basics have actually decided to remove their cart deposit systems, seemingly after customer complaints. As well, cart deposits can sometimes decrease consumer spending as they create a barrier to entry, which is counter intuitive towards the store’s goal of sucking as much money out of the consumer as possible (why else are carts continuously getting bigger?). But at least a few chains like No Frills and FreshCo are keeping the cart deposit game strong. So expect a lot of use out of these cart coins for years to come.


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