They are ubiquitous throughout Peekskill, the shopping carts from two of the grocery stores within the city limits, causing derision on social media and giving headaches to store managers and city workers.
CTown’s red carriages and Stop and Shop’s purple handled metal carts end up on the sides of roads, in ditches or parked in front of buildings. They are a source of frustration for the city’s Department of Public Works and the managers of the two stores. And they have fueled an Instagram community that anonymously submits pictures of where they are found along with comments.
Department of Public Works director David Rambo says it’s an ongoing issue. “They are all over the place, it’s an eyesore and extra work for us.”
He has a person assigned to litter patrol who regularly takes carts from parking garages and a foreman who also takes them in his truck when he sees them. A week ago, his crew sent a half dozen carts to scrap metal from the city garage yard on Louisa Street.
Rich Perez, store manager at Stop and Shop acknowledges they are a problem and says he’s limited by how far his employees can go looking for them. “It’s a dilemma for me. I have a union shop and there are liability issues if employees go off store grounds to get carts.” There are 8 to 10 employees charged with touring the area of the Beach Shopping Center to get carts and bring them back to the store. Last week he had two employees climb down from the sidewalk alongside Route 6 into the ditch area above the CVS drive-thru to collect carts that ended up there.
Perez, who has been the manager of the Peekskill Stop and Shop for 15 months said he knows a lot of his customers take the bus and they go with their carts to the bus stop across Main Street. When they board the bus, they leave the shopping carts. Retrieving them from across a busy stretch of Route 6 isn’t so easy.
Perez said if his union workers can’t go there, he would have to send two managers and when there is only one manager in the store per shift, it’s not logistically possible. The carts are well over $100 apiece said Perez whose store sees 18,000 customers a week.
Downtown grocery store CTown on Park Street has given shopping cart retrieval duties to two maintenance workers. In addition, a manager and an employee drive around Peekskill three days a week, for three hours at a time, picking up abandoned carts in a store van. They usually pick up 16 carts at a time on Saturdays and Mondays. They get close to eight carriages on Wednesdays. “We’re driving slowly, looking for carts,” said manager Jeff Pesantes. “A lot of our shoppers are elderly, and a lot don’t have cars.”
“We have one employee who has been with the store for 15 years and he will pick up carts on his way into work and on his way home.” Even on his days off, if he sees a cart, he stops and takes it, said Pesantes.
Pesantes and another employee cruise around the streets of Peekskill after the store closes at 9 pm. They have a specific route that takes them to the edge of Peekskill at the Welcher Avenue shopping center to all the apartment buildings in the downtown where maintenance people leave carts for them if they are found on their property.
When daytime managers are driving home from work, they text other managers if they see carts left on sidewalks. They even get calls from customers who have spotted shopping carts.
Pesantes said CTown officials have considered putting in barriers in front of the store that would block the carriages from leaving the property, but they have very limited space in front of the store. “We also know that our customers walk and need to use the cart to transport their groceries.”
He’s aware that Sav-A-Lot in the N. Division Street shopping center charges customers to use grocery carts. CTown doesn’t want to pass that cost onto customers. He said they would consider adding a fourth day of driving around collecting carts. “We are aware of the issue and are working on being on top of it,” said Pesantes who has been at the Peekskill store since January.