Reader Ted Unnikumaran writes in to say he recently realized he’s been staring at this nudge (and more) from Aldi Grocery stores for years:
One of the first things you realize when you shop at Aldi’s is that in order to get a shopping cart you need to deposit a quarter into the shopping cart and this releases the shopping cart from the other carts. When you are done shopping, you can get your quarter back by sliding the shopping cart back into the back of the other carts at the front of the store. What this does is it forces customers to return the shopping carts, and Aldi’s doesn’t have to hire anyone to go through the parking lot gathering all the carts.
Its also created a small market for people who want to return your carts for you. I shop at the store in Langley Park, MD and there usually one or two gentlemen who will politely ask you if you would like help unloading your groceries. In return, they will return your carts for you and keep the quarter as tip. If you politely say “No thanks” they leave you alone.
The company’s web site says “this expense-saving tradition (no rolling carts to chase and no damaged cars!) has become a legendary part of the ALDI culture.”