The Grocery Cart Making Life Easier for Special Needs Families Caroline's Carts makes it easier for families with special needs run simple errands, like grocery shopping.

By Nina Zipkin

Caroline's Cart
Drew Long created Caroline's Carts to make shopping easier for special needs families.

Ordinary tasks are a little different for special needs families. No one understands this like Drew Ann Long, a mother of three in Alabaster, Alabama whose middle child Caroline was born with Rhett's syndrome, and cannot walk or speak. Eight years ago when Caroline had begun to outgrow the seats in traditional carts, Long realized how cumbersome it had become to manage a wheelchair and a cart in the store. Long was surprised there were no good alternatives for families like hers.

"I could not believe that retailers had to provide, because of the ADA, handicap parking, accessible entrances, accessible bathrooms, but no accessible shopping carts," says Long. "I really felt that there was a huge gap in the market of providing accessibility."

With a Caroline's Cart, special needs families don't need to manage both a wheelchair and a cart at the store.
Image credit: Caroline's Cart

Related: This Detroit Entrepreneur Is the First African-American Woman to Score a Patent for a Natural Haircare Product

Long sat at her dining room table and sketched out a cart that would allow caregivers transport an older child or adult with special needs throughout a store without having to account for both a traditional grocery cart and a wheelchair. She and her husband David eventually bootstrapped Parent Solution Group, LLC, and created a prototype in 2010.

As she'd soon discover, manufacturing accessible carts was a tricky business. Hers wasn't a product that could be marked up and resold to consumers. Cart sales impacted stores' bottom lines. "I wasn't selling the widget to Walmart, I was selling the shelf that the widget was put on."

Finding a manufacturer wasn't easy either. Some makers were hesitant to sign on since such a cart had never been made before. Parent Solution Group bootstrapped the manufacture of 100 carts to seed the market and get her concept some much-needed validation. "I knew that I had to create the demand and I needed to get the families who needed those carts behind me," says Long. The carts shipped out on October, 9, 2012, a date with special significance: It was Caroline's 12th birthday.

Related: Virtual Reality Is Proving a Powerful Vehicle for Disaster Relief, Social Causes

This invention ensures special needs children don't sit in a cart's basket along with the grocery items.
Image credit: Caroline's Cart

Today, manufacturer Technibilt handles sales while Long takes on awareness, promoting the carts at trade shows and being an active advocate lobbying Congress and conducting presentations to the National Council on Disability and the United States Access Board. "They all could not believe this had not been done before," said Long.

The company says it has seen a nearly 700% increase in sales from 2013 to 2015. A scan of the company's social media shows grateful posts from families using the carts in big-name shops like Target, Wegman's Kroger and Whole Foods. Some carts have found homes as far as Australia and Norway.

With each sale, lives change, says Long, offering less stress and worry. They also sidestep some safety concerns, as some parents had been forced to place their child in a traditional cart's basket and place groceries on top of them. "But most importantly," she says, "we are afforded the same equal opportunity shopping as the typical family."

Image credit: Caroline's Cart

Related: 6 Founders Whose Companies Are Making a Big Difference in the World

Wavy Line
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Editor's Pick

A Father Decided to Change When He Was in Prison on His Son's Birthday. Now His Nonprofit Helps Formerly Incarcerated Applicants Land 6-Figure Jobs.
A Teen Turned His Roblox Side Hustle Into a Multimillion-Dollar Company — Now He's Working With Karlie Kloss and Elton John
3 Mundane Tasks You Should Automate to Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff
The Next Time Someone Intimidates You, Here's What You Should Do
5 Ways to Manage Your Mental Health and Regulate Your Nervous System for Sustainable Success

Related Topics

Business News

'I Am Just Floored': Woman Discovers She Won $1 Million Lottery Prize While Checking Her Email at Work

Initially, she thought the email was a scam, but went to lottery headquarters and walked away with a six-figure check after taxes.

Business News

'I've Got the Bug for Business': See All of Mark Wahlberg's Entrepreneurial Endeavors, From Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch to Wahlburgers

Mark Wahlberg owns businesses in several categories, including entertainment production, apparel, fitness, and nutrition.

Business News

South Park Creators Spent 'Infinity Dollars' Renovating Iconic Colorado Restaurant, Set to Reopen Soon

Casa Bonita, a long-time favorite of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, went bankrupt during the pandemic. The duo purchased and painstakingly renovated the Mexican spot "like a piece of art," Stone said.

Growing a Business

5 Essential Automation Technologies for Your Restaurant

From online ordering to kitchen displays, check out these 5 automation technologies your business can't be without.


5 Traits and Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs in 2023

Entrepreneurship has become the new trending topic in the business world. In 2023, the entrepreneurial world is expected to flourish more than ever, and it will take a certain set of skills to be a successful entrepreneur. This article highlights what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in 2023.