Shopping carts come and go but this one’s staying for good.
The short black cart regularly trundled around the Sobeys store in Alcona. Pushed by hands big and small, sat in by toddlers and bored teenagers, the little cart stood sturdy amongst the onslaught of abuse until one senior took a shine to it.
Christine Crowe was having a sad day on Dec. 1. It was the anniversary of her youngest daughter Laura Haynes’ death and she was shedding the odd tear as she made her way around the Innisfil store that day.
It wasn’t until she realized she could walk almost upright that the 77-year-old Belle Ewart lady decided what would help ease her mental and physical pain.
“I’ve been in Sobeys a few times now and noticed I could really walk good with the shopping cart and I’d say to one of my friends, ‘I’m going to ask if I can buy one of these carts’ and they were saying, ‘no, no’,” Crowe said with a soft Scottish accent.
“Because I have a nice walker but I can’t use it because it bends me over – so I can’t use it,” she said. “I walk with two ski poles and that’s how I walk if you came and saw me. Now my shoulder’s gone and my elbow’s gone on my left side because I’ve been using these two ski poles for 10 years.”
A little crooked and house-bound since a car accident in 2005 robbed much of her mobility, Crowe said she still managed to walk her dog Maggie for years using the poles until the dog passed away in 2020.
A near shut-in since the COVID pandemic began, Crowe said she was depressed and gaining weight without exercise and was determined to take to the sidewalks and roads in the tiny hamlet if she had the proper gear.
That’s where Sobeys owner Kevin Augustine enters the story.
Krull asked for a manager that day but instead, Augustine answered the senior’s strange request.
“So I went up to him and this time, I was in tears. I explained I can walk with this. Can I buy it, the shopping cart? He listened to me. I told him what I was going through that I’ve put on 16 pounds because I can’t get out. I was really upset,” she said.
Augustine admits he’s never given away a shopping cart in his long history in the grocery business.
His family initially owned the popular Wilson’s IGA on Innisfil Beach Road, before he opened the nearby Sobeys 18 years ago.
“She wanted to buy a cart, and I said, ‘if this makes you feel better and you can walk around with this cart, then here you can have it’,” Augustine said Jan. 10.
Crowe was amazed he would give her the cart and he even delivered it to her home.
“She has a ground level apartment, so she can use it outside or whatever,” he said. “I thought, well, hey. She kept saying she wanted to give me money for it and I said ‘no, I feel good doing this for you, it’s no problem’.”
On Monday, Crowe used her ski-poles to put on her heavy winter boots and walked outside to pulled the tiny cart from its winter mooring beside her lawn furniture.
Leaning on the top basket, she straightened up and pushed through the swept path beside the snowy lawn with ease.
“I just think it’s nice to say, because all papers, the TV, everything you put on is all about COVID and I thought it would be nice just to show the kindness and the goodness is still out there,” she said.