John and I went grocery shopping earlier. We shop often at our local Aldi food market. For anyone not familiar with that chain, at Aldi you are responsible for bagging your own food i.e. you bring your own bags (or you can buy bags there; disposable or reusable.)
When you first arrive, you put a quarter in a slot on a cart, which releases it from the rest of the carts. When you are done shopping and have unloaded your cart, you take it back to the front and attach it to the rest of the carts, which pushes your quarter back out to you.
All items within the store are off-brands, so the cost of some items are generally going to be much less than if you purchased it at a higher end grocery chain.
With that, in combination with the shopper being responsible for their own bagging and return of their cart, it allows a much lower over head for the store as they do not require the staff to bag groceries or retrieve carts from the parking lot, which also helps with keeping the consumer's cost down.
To me, it's very green and "hippy-ish," and is one of the reasons that I like shopping there. I also enjoy coffee shops and small cafe's and co-op restaurants where you (gasp) yes, bus your own tables.
With all of that said, believe it or not I'm not trying to promote any place or anything. Well... Actually, I take that back. I am promoting something, but must explain further before you will understand what it is.
As we just finished loading the last of our groceries into our vehicle, a man with a young boy with him was walking by us on his way to the store entrance. He stopped and, with a friendly smile and demeanor, said "Can I save you a trip and trade you a quarter for your cart?"
Of course, we traded. He gave us a quarter, and I held the cart to keep it from rolling while he put his boy in.
Driving home John said, "It's amazing more people don't do that."
To do this, being nice and friendly to a stranger is required. And this is something that some people just don't even consider, think about, or take the time to do.
"A quarter and a smile" is worth a great deal more than just 25 cents.