Consumers in Training

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These mini-shopping carts at Trader Joe are for “customers in training.” And children zoom happily around the store propelling these pint-sized carts, designed just for them. A book I use for my Consumer Culture class talks about this phenomenon of learning to shop: James J.  Farrell’s One Nation Under Goods. Farrell does  a great job describing how children learn to shop–from being socialized into a consumer world before they’re even aware of it, to learning how to navigate a store and ask for what they want. These carts fit right in. I was amused by how shameless this process is here at Trader Joe–there’s no question that training children to be customers is a desirable end goal and no effort to hide the fact that even a specialized shop like TJ is competing for future loyalists. And of course, the carts also serve the end of keeping children busy while the parents/caregivers get their own shopping done. Genius move. Next time, I’ll have to watch to see  what the little shoppers are putting in the carts and whether their selections actually make into the shopping bags at the end of the trip.