Title:
Shopping cart retainer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A holder for individual shopping carts by means of nesting the front wheels of the shopping cart within a confined physical barrier. The holder is fastened to the parking lot surface consisting of an entrance or front inclined ramp an exit or nesting area ramp. The front wheels of the shopping cart drop into a holding or nesting area presenting a four-sided vertical walled physical barrier including one side exit ramp. Once placed within this physical barrier this device would prevent the front wheels of the cart from rolling, voluntary, outside the confines of the barriers presented by this nesting area.



Inventors:
Posner, Samuel Lewis (Aventura, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/068466
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
02/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SAMUEL L. POSNER (AVENTURA, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shopping system comprising: a low profile individual shopping cart holding device having an area that nests the front wheels of an individual shopping cart, holding the individual cart in a fixed position by means of a vertical walled section an entrance ramp and an exit ramp; and with predrilled holes to securely fasten the device to the surface of a store parking area, two additional holes are predrilled and counter sunk into the front entrance ramp of the device used also to securely fasten the device to the surface of a store parking lot.

2. The system set forth in claim 1 wherein the three sides of the nesting area are of low profile to be non-obstructive to vehicular or pedestrian traffic but substantial and high enough to prevent the front wheels of all commonly used shopping carts from rolling beyond the enclosed nesting area provided by this barrier.

3. The system set forth in claim 1 wherein the entrance ramp is at a lower specific angle and elevation rise to allow with ease of motion and force to push the cart up and over the ramp section allowing the cart to drop down the exit ramp which is of greater angle to hold more securely the wheels of the shopping cart into the nesting area.

4. The system set forth in claim 3 wherein the entrance ramp is of wider dimension at the front section where the front wheels of the shopping cart first engage the entrance ramp also a tapered vertical edge on the sides of the entrance ramp that will help to guide the front wheels of the shopping cart up and into the nesting area.

5. The system set forth in claim 3 wherein the exit ramp which makes up one side of the four sided nesting area is at an incline to prevent the normal rolling of the shopping cart from exiting the nesting area but will be of correct angle and elevation to allow the shopping cart when pulled by a customer to exit the nesting area with ease.

6. The system set forth in claim 1 wherein the entrance ramp front surface width will be wider then tapered through to the nesting area allowing for the successful entry of the wheels into the nesting area even if the cart may not be perfectly in alignment with the approach to the shopping cart holding device.

7. The system set forth in claim 1 wherein the two ramps and the walled nesting area are comprised of non-corrosive material and of sufficient thickness to be sturdy withstanding the weight of a vehicle.

Description:

This invention relates to a device that will hold/retain individually a shopping cart in a particular location on a store parking lot. This invention would hold a commonly used individual, customer shopping cart, by means of nesting only the front wheels of the shopping cart within a confined physical barrier. When pushed gently up the front inclined entrance ramp, the front wheels of the shopping cart drop into a holding or nesting area presenting a four sided walled physical barrier with one side an exit ramp. Once placed within this physical barrier this device would prevent the front wheels of the cart from rolling, voluntary, outside the confines of the barriers presented by the nesting area. Removing the cart is accomplished by reversing the action and pulling the cart gently, rolling the front wheels over the inclined nesting area exit ramp, back down the front inclined entrance ramp.

DESCRIPTION OF THE BACKGROUND ART

It is a common practice for shoppers to utilize shopping carts for holding and transporting products from stores to their vehicles parked on store parking lots. Shopping cart control and storage is a problem in the parking lots of many shopping areas. The problem stems from customers abandoning carts after they have taken the carts from the store to their vehicles for unloading. There is no convenient or secure means of retaining the shopping cart in a position safe from vehicle damage or in the path of moving vehicles and walking shoppers. A common practice by store managers is to have employees retrieve unloaded carts and return them to the store as soon as possible. This presents several problems such as safety, labor expense, inconvenience to customers, as well as blocking entrances and exits with large quantities of shopping carts while transporting. Additionally the availability of these carts is at times lacking, a severe problem to the store with a possible decline in sales and customer satisfaction.

In an attempt to avoid damage to customer's vehicles and to the shopping carts themselves, as well as to prevent clogging of parking spaces and thoroughfares, it has become common practice to provide cart corrals or storage areas spaced throughout the parking lot in an effort to encourage customers to return the carts to these corrals. Store employees or customers on their way into the store can then retrieve the carts from these storage areas.

The cart corrals commonly in use are, as the name implies, are primarily all metal, high profile, and fence-like structures. The metal from which cart corrals are typically made has a number of drawbacks. It is likely to rust and deteriorate, limiting the useful life of the corral and a potential to damage vehicles and the corral itself. Accessibility and visibility of such open, fence-like structures is low, which further deters customers from using them. In areas of the country where snow is common, such open corrals may go unplowed, preventing customers from employing them.

After unloading the products purchased in the stores into their vehicles many customers try to abandon carts in a position close to their vehicles. In front of their vehicles in spaces between cars on parking lot dividers, or grassy areas, hoping they will stay in place, while they drive from the parking space, which is not always the case. A wide variety of techniques have been employed to try and solve these problems, none of which have been totally effective. Many stores have constructed holding pens for shopping carts, U.S. Pat. No. 5,201,426 to Cruwell, shopping cart corral, also U.S. Pat. No. Des. 334,301 to Buckley, a shopping cart corral, but most customers will not walk a distance to these areas to deposit empty carts or may not be aware of these pens since they take up vital parking space and few are constructed throughout the parking lots. Individual pens such as U.S. Pat. No. Des. 361,448 to Buckley does address the convenience of having a cart placed next to a customers vehicle for easy disposal and retrieval although this device is elevated but not enough to be seen by a moving vehicle which may cause damage to the vehicle and the corral also to walking pedestrian shoppers, this individual holding device also takes up additional vital space in a parking lot since the pen surrounds the shopping cart it also does not provide a secure position from voluntary rolling of the cart if the mounting of the pen is on an incline.

Another significant advantage of this low profile shopping cart retainer invention is convenience to the customer and the store. By means of this invention is to make available or retain an individual shopping cart in a specific location, next to their vehicle, making it convenient to have a cart available next to their vehicle as they arrive and begin shopping and when leaving to dispose of the cart by placing it in a convenient holder next to their vehicle ready for the next customer who will occupy the same parking space. When a customer removes the cart assigned to their parking space and brings it into the store to begin shopping assures the customer of the availability of a shopping cart and eliminates the store from retrieving carts, problems of which were described above.

In addition a variety of techniques have been employed by stores to resolve the problem of retrieving shopping carts, such as rewarding customers who bring carts into the store to shop, providing pens to store carts on the parking lots and in the patent literature for example U.S. Pat. No. 4,470,495 to Unger, which encourages the return of carts to a pen by reward. Further, U.S. Pat. No. 5,119,087 to Lucas also a counter that will reward the return of carts to a designated area.

As illustrated by background art and commercial efforts are continuously being made in an attempt to resolve the shopping cart problem as it relates to the retaining of carts in parking areas and in combination with the retrieval of such carts to the store. No prior effort, however, suggests the present inventive configured components arranged as disclosed herein. Prior inventions or efforts do not address and resolve the problem in an efficient and comprehensive manner of retaining individual carts on a parking lot or a system by means of this invention of convenience of retrieving carts by customers. The present invention achieves its purpose, objectives and advantages over prior art through a new, useful and unobvious combination of simplistic design elements, through the use of a minimum combination of readily available materials.

It is therefore, an objective of the present invention to provide a shopping cart system comprising a low profile device that will retain an individual shopping cart in a fixed position on a parking lot at a strategic location specifically in a safe and secure location next to his or her vehicle enabling a shopper to dispose of and retrieve a shopping cart at his or her convenience. This invention is so designed as to allow the cart to be rolled forward onto and into the retaining area of the device with ease by means of an inclined entrance ramp over an elevated retaining barrier retaining the front wheels of the shopping cart within a corral or nest. Also a cart may be retrieved from this device and the nesting retaining area when rolled out or pulled back from the retaining area over an inclined exit ramp and retaining barrier that is within the holding or nesting area. This device is substantially constructed and would be securely fastened to the surface of a store parking lot in designated locations as an unobtrusive fixture.

This unique device when used properly would retain shopping carts at a specific location within a store parking lot preventing loose carts from damaging cars and interfering with parking areas and spaces. This device is specifically constructed and designed to allow with ease for a shopping cart to be moved onto an inclined ramp dropping into a specifically designed holding area retaining the front wheels of said shopping cart. Ease of removal of said shopping cart is obtained by reversing the movement away from the retaining area engaging a specifically designed ramp to allow the release of the shopping cart. As well as disposing of and making available carts as used by patrons. It is yet a further object of the invention to hold a shopping cart by a secure means securely fastened to the surface of a store parking lot which in turn will hold the front wheels of a conventional shopping cart in a fixed position by means of a bordered nesting area so as the front wheels of the shopping cart will be rendered immobile preventing the shopping cart to be loose, an obstruction to shoppers and vehicles.

Furthermore, by retaining the shopping cart in an obtainable position it enables the shopper to dispose of the cart after use and provides a ready cart for the next shopper whereby entering the store with the cart from the parking lot eliminating the necessity of the store employees the difficult task of retrieving carts during store hours. The foregoing has outlined some of the more pertinent objects of the invention. These objects should be construed to be merely illustrative of some of the more prominent features and applications of the intended invention. Many other beneficial results can be attained by applying the disclosed invention in a different manner or by modifying the invention within the scope of the disclosure including incentive programs and systems in conjunction with this invention. Accordingly other objects and a further understanding of the invention may be had by referring to the summary of the invention and the detailed description of the preferred embodiment in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is defined by the appended claims with the specific preferred embodiment shown in the attached drawings. For the purpose of summarizing the invention, the invention may be provided in a shopping system comprising a substantially constructed low profile rectangle shaped ramped device that will enable a shopping cart to be securely held in a specific position and location conveniently adjacent to a customers vehicle. Whereby the customer has immediate accesses to the cart to commence shopping by retrieving the cart from the cart holding device by gently pulling the cart towards oneself over the retaining inclined ramp thereby bringing the cart into the store to commence shopping. When returning to the shoppers vehicle and removing the purchased products the shopper returns the cart to the cart holder reversing the procedure by pushing the cart with ease up a slight inclined ramp into the holding area of the shopping cart holding device naturally dropping the front wheels of the shopping cart in the corral area securely holding the shopping cart in place.

In addition, the invention is constructed of molded synthetic durable non-corrosive substantially thick material withstanding the effects of a vehicles weight and without causing damage to the tires or other components of common vehicles if so driven over. Also the invention has a low profile, it will not be an obstruction or hazard to vehicles or pedestrians and it will be obviously marked for the purpose of detection. Four mounting holes are provided to securely mount the invention to the surface of the parking lot with substantial non-corrosive bolts.

The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the more pertinent and important features of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may the better understood so that the present contribution to the art can be more fully appreciated. Additional features of the invention will be described hereinafter, which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and the disclosed specific embodiment might be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other constructions for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective illustration of the right side and top of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the top of the present invention which clearly demonstrates the enlarged width of the entrance ramp as it tapers towards the nesting area.

FIG. 3 is an elevation view of the right side of the present invention showing the elevation of the walls of the nesting area and the entrance and exit ramps as well as the flush mounting of the re-enforcing hole drilled plates.

FIG. 4 is an elevation view of the right side of the present invention with a phantom view of the front wheels of a common shopping cart as they nest in the holding section of the present invention. These phantom wheels of a shopping cart are not a representation of the invention nor part of the invention but are only viewed as a demonstration and the action of the invention when used.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective showing of the entire shopping cart holder/retainer with a molded gradual sloped entrance ramp 12 and the molded exit ramp 14 which makes up one side of the four sided nesting area 10 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The nesting area 10, which holds the front wheels of a conventional shopping cart see FIG. 4. and the remaining three walls of the nesting area 10, the left wall of the nesting area 16 the back wall of the nesting area 18 and the right side of the nesting area 20 which are all elevated to a height to prevent the front wheels of a common shopping cart, once positioned, from rolling voluntarily out side of the confined nesting area 10 which is bordered by the exit ramp 14 and the three sides 16, 18, 20 of the nesting area 10 see FIG. 4. The left corner re-enforcing hole drilled mounting plate 22 and the right side corner re-enforcing hole drilled mounting plate 24 are shown in the nesting area 10 which will securely fasten the shopping cart retainer/holder when bolted through the pre-drilled mounting holes to the surface of the parking lot. The left mounting pre-drilled countersunk hole 26 is located on the entrance ramp 12 and the right side pre-drilled mounting hole 28 is located on the right side of the entrance ramp 12 which will complete a four hole mounting pattern which will securely fasten the shopping cart retainer/holder when bolted to the surface of the parking lot.

FIG. 2 is a plane view of the top of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the entrance ramp 12 including the two mounting countersunk pre-drilled holes left side 26, right side 28 the less gradual sloped exit ramp 14 which makes up one side of the four sided nesting area 10, left side wall 16 of the nesting area 10 tapered from the entrance ramp 12 to the back wall 18 of the nesting area 10 also the right side wall 20 nesting area 10 tapered from the entrance ramp 12 including the left side pre-drilled re-enforced mounting plate 22 and the right side pre-drilled corner re-enforcing mounting plate 24.

FIG. 3 is an elevated right side view of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the right side wall 20 of the nesting area 10 behind which is the greater sloped entrance ramp 12 and the pre-drilled countersunk mounting holes 26,28 and the less sloped exit ramp 14 included are the pre-drilled corner re-enforced mounting plates 22,24 included is the tapered wall guide illustrated by the lower ramps peak 30 which will keep the wheels of the shopping cart guided and from spilling over the entrance ramp as they are guided up the entrance ramp 12 to the nesting area 10.

FIG. 4 is an elevated right side view of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the phantom elevated view of a common shopping cart's front wheels 32 as they nest in the shopping cart's holder/ retainer nesting area 10. These phantom wheels of a shopping cart are not a representation of the invention nor part of the invention but are only viewed as a demonstration and the action of the invention when used. Customer Number: 000050093

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective showing of the entire shopping cart holder/retainer with a molded gradual sloped entrance ramp 12 and the molded exit ramp 14 which makes up one side of the four sided nesting area 10 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The nesting area 10, which holds the front wheels of a conventional shopping cart see FIG. 4. and the remaining three walls of the nesting area 10, the left wall of the nesting area 16 the back wall of the nesting area 18 and the right side of the nesting area 20 which are all elevated to a height to prevent the front wheels of a common shopping cart, once positioned, from rolling voluntarily out side of the confined nesting area 10 which is bordered by the exit ramp 14 and the three sides 16, 18, 20 of the nesting area 10 see FIG. 4. The left corner re-enforcing hole drilled mounting plate 22 and the right side corner re-enforcing hole drilled mounting plate 24 are shown in the nesting area 10 which will securely fasten the shopping cart retainer/holder when bolted through the pre-drilled mounting holes to the surface of the parking lot. The left mounting pre-drilled countersunk hole 26 is located on the entrance ramp 12 and the right side pre-drilled mounting hole 28 is located on the right side of the entrance ramp 12 which will complete a four hole mounting pattern which will securely fasten the shopping cart retainer/holder when bolted to the surface of the parking lot.

FIG. 2 is a plane view of the top of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the entrance ramp 12 including the two mounting countersunk pre-drilled holes left side 26, right side 28 the less gradual sloped exit ramp 14 which makes up one side of the four sided nesting area 10, left side wall 16 of the nesting area 10 tapered from the entrance ramp 12 to the back wall 18 of the nesting area 10 also the right side wall 20 nesting area 10 tapered from the entrance ramp 12 including the left side pre-drilled re-enforced mounting plate 22 and the right side pre-drilled corner re-enforcing mounting plate 24.

FIG. 3 is an elevated right side view of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the right side wall 20 of the nesting area 10 behind which is the greater sloped entrance ramp 12 and the pre-drilled countersunk mounting holes 26,28 and the less sloped exit ramp 14 included are the pre-drilled corner re-enforced mounting plates 22,24 included is the tapered wall guide illustrated by the lower ramps peak 30 which will keep the wheels of the shopping cart guided and from spilling over the entrance ramp as they are guided up the entrance ramp 12 to the nesting area 10.

FIG. 4 is an elevated right side view of the shopping cart holder/retainer showing the phantom elevated view of a common shopping cart's front wheels 32 as they nest in the shopping cart's holder/ retainer nesting area 10. These phantom wheels of a shopping cart are not a representation of the invention nor part of the invention but are only viewed as a demonstration and the action of the invention when used.