Where Are All the Shopping Baskets at Fred Meyer?

Street-level Fred Meyer employees (who are too exhausted to lie) confirm that the baskets are being stolen faster than they can be replaced.

Where are all the shopping baskets at Fred Meyer? I’ve been to two different Portland locations this week and couldn’t find a single one. Are they being phased out? Is this a scam to get us to use full-sized shopping carts instead, so we’ll buy more stuff? —Fred Menace

I admit I hadn’t noticed the problem you’re referencing, Menace—I’ve been too busy founding the world’s steamiest international aid organization, Doctors Without Trousers. But after reading your letter, I went to Fred’s to see for myself. You’re right: The baskets are gone—but according to Fred Meyer’s corporate affairs office, it’s not because they’re pulling a scam.

I wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical about this—insisting that a company’s scams aren’t scams is, after all, about 90% of what corporate affairs offices do—but in this case, the story checks out. Street-level Fred Meyer employees (who are too exhausted to lie) confirm that the baskets are being stolen faster than they can be replaced.

I wish I could tell you there was some astonishing story behind this—you can snort shopping baskets to get high, maybe, or they can be redeemed for shares of GameStop. The mundane truth is that the baskets are disappearing at the same rate they always have (about two or three per store each week). It’s just that now they’re getting replaced a lot more slowly than they used to.

“We are definitely not phasing out our shopping baskets,” says Fred Meyer’s Jeffery Temple. (But then, he would, wouldn’t he? Dun-dun-DUUUN!*) “However, our orders for these baskets have not been consistently fulfilled due to product shortages. We will continue to order the baskets and place them in our stores as they become available.”

There you have it: Yet another towering soufflé of anti-consumer conspiracy is collapsed by the slamming oven door of facts into a mundane omelet of supply-chain disruption. In any case, the baskets aren’t even entirely gone (at my store, anyway); they’re just hard to find because they’re nearly always in use.

Eventually, the manufacturing economy will return to normal and replacement baskets will show up. And when they do, I’m definitely going to try snorting one, because hey, you never know.

*Nah, it’s legit; I’m just messing with you.

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.