Expat Life

Shopping trolleys: granny chic

Last month, Diane over at Oui in France wrote a piece about shopping carts, or shopping trolleys, as they’re called in Australia. I realised that this has become part of normal life here in Melbourne, but it’s something I never did until I came here.

In Melbourne, shopping trolleys refers to two things. One is the kind of shopping cart provided by supermarkets and stores like Target and Kmart. You use them to hold your items until you check out. Diane and I are talking about a second kind of trolley, a smaller, personal trolley that is commonly used in both Paris and Melbourne. In cities where walking is commonplace, people use these to carry their groceries home. When I first saw them, I reacted just as Diane, and asked the very same question she posed, “Are these shopping trolleys granny chic or just granny?”

Shopping trolleys.

When I lived in Miami, I went to the supermarket every Sunday morning with my sister and our mother. We used the supermarket’s big shopping cart to hold our items. At the check-out, our items were transferred into bags, which were then carried the car, and we drove home. Here in Melbourne, I don’t have a car. Most of the time, Theo drives us both the market and we do the shopping together. Other times, I do it alone, and I use a shopping trolley.

There are two ways in which I see people using their trolleys. One is to use the trolley for the shopping as well as carrying your groceries home. People load the groceries right in, out for check-out, and back in again, sans bags. I don’t like this method. I prefer the wire type of trolley, like the blue one pictured above, which flattens, and I can place it in a larger supermarket trolley. I like my groceries bagged and then I place them in my trolley.

I do feel a bit like an ole lady when I drag my shopping trolley behind me, but it’s practical. It beats carrying heavy bags. I draw the line at taking it to the mall, however.  I see some women using them at the mall to carry their clothing purchases. Practical, I know, but still granny.



  • These are widely used in Europe (at least in Spain or France). I had the same reaction as you when I first started using one at the grocery store, I felt like an old lady hoarder. However, everybody and their mother uses them in Spain, young, old, black, white etc. So nobody looks out of place with them. I would even see people on the metro with them. I see them in NYC too. Not as much as I did in Madrid, but they are common. I wish I still had mine, it was very practical.

    • It’s the same in Melbourne. They’re very common so I don’t feel out of place with them. I can see how they could be popular in NYC. It’s a walking city too. Thanks for your comments!

  • They still tend to be very Granny over here with people preferring to run the big Supermarket shopping trolley to the car. I think they are catching on with the younger element though with new ‘funky’ designs coming out all the time and Grannies getting younger.
    One thing is for sure though. they’re not for Grandads. I either manage to get my feet tangled in them or if dragging them behind me, lose them off the kerb. They should be licensed.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I’m not that graceful with them either lol.

  • I had one in Glasgow and loved it. I called it my granny jeep because it reminded me of the one my elderly mother-in-law used long ago. I’m not a granny, but I’m old enough to be one, so it doesn’t matter, but I can’t imagine any of my Australian friends using one. I guess it’s a city thing. I love them because they remove the need for the car, and the plastic bags. They should be called environmentally friendly trolleys – or EFTs! :-).

    • That’s interesting. They’re very common in Melbourne. I wonder if they’re as widely used in other parts of the country.

      • Living on the extreme edge of the outer suburbs, my friends all drive to the shops. I think that’s why it’s a city thing. Many people who live close to the city choose not to use their car if they can avoid it.

  • alanna

    Tons of people in NYC use them. I think any big city where pedestrians dominate.

    • That makes sense. I can see them being widely used in walking cities. In Miami, they’re mostly used by little old ladies that don’t drive.

  • Glad you’re representing the young granny style Down Under!! Thanks for mentioning my post!

    • Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Coral

    I had one when I lived in Brooklyn. I was in college, and I never thought of them as granny. In fact, I had cart envy until I got my own! I used it not only for groceries but trips to the laundry mat as well. But then again, I have never been very fashionable.

    • Using them for the laundromat is very sensible! That’s a heavy load. As for you not being fashionable, you have your own cult. What’s more fashionable than that?

  • The good thing is now they make them more ergonomically as well as stylish. I only take mine to the farmers markets but they do save my back from the heav bags of shopping I carry 🙂

    • Diane, who inspired this post, has a very snazzy trolley. Mine is pretty basic, but it definitely beats heavy lifting and bags cutting into your palms or shoulders. Thanks for your comments!