A More Functional Design for the Granny Cart

When I lived in NYC, it was common to see (typically older) people doing their grocery shopping with one of these:

Granny cart by Reflex Blue used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Colloquially called “granny carts,” they make good sense in urban environs, where the nearest supermarket might be ten blocks or more. I’ve used one on two occasions and found the UX to be less than ideal (it’s difficult to retrieve things from the bottom).

The open-air design pictured above is the most commonly seen, but in one of my Urban Design Observations posts, I recorded that older folks in Chinatown prefer this more weather-resistant variant:

Those were the only two forms of granny cart I’d seen, until spotting this Polish variant with a more task-specific design:

Called the Nano-Handel, it was designed by ID firm Razy2 as a concept for the street vendors in the Polish city of Gdynia.

The vicinity of Hala Targowa, the spaces around the railway stations in Gdynia Leszczynki or Chylon are filled with micro-stands, in which you can often find handicraft pearls made the previous afternoon or freshly picked tomatoes from your own allotment garden.

This type of activity allows sellers / handicraftsmen / gardeners to live with dignity, but also to have a purpose and a pretext for contacts with other people. They become an inseparable element of the landscape of a given street or district.

Through the “Nano-commerce” project, we would like to introduce this type of sales method to the center of Gdynia – on the one hand, by designing a mobile, light stand adapted to the needs of the aforementioned sellers, and, on the other hand, by developing a simple system of renting stands and stimulating this venture by the city.

Though the Nano-Handels were obviously designed with a display function in mind, it occurs to me that a similar design might be useful for shopping as well; watching an older person bend and stretch to reach into the bottom of a traditional granny cart reveals room for improvement.

I’m thinking if the bottom drawer of the Nano-Handel design was deeper, to accommodate larger/taller items, I’d prefer shopping with one of these than either of the two designs above. It admittedly wouldn’t have the low cost of the first design or the weather-resistance of the second design, but I’d love to see what Razy2 would come up with if tasked with incorporating elements from all three.