Replacing one stack of baskets could cost up to $200
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Redmond Safeway customer told NewsChannel 21 on Friday shopping baskets have been disappearing from the store since the plastic bag ban took effect.
At Oregon grocery stores, single-use plastic bags are no longer a checkout option due to the new state law. Shoppers must pay 5 cents for a paper bag or bring a reusable bag.
Larry Cole of Redmond told NewsChannel 21 that on Feb. 14, he was unable to find a shopping basket at Safeway to use while grocery shopping. He said the store staff told him customers had left the store with the baskets and did not return them.
Other store checkout clerks in Bend have said much the same thing about depleted supplies of the hand-carried baskets used for lighter shopping trips than the full shopping carts.
According to Cole, the Redmond Safeway employee said the store has ordered more, but the supplier could not keep up with the demand, since people have not returned the baskets after using them. He also said the employee told him the manager did not plan on placing any more orders because the baskets can cost up to $200 per stack.
"My guess is that people aren't bringing their own bags and they walk out to the parking lot with the basket and just take the basket home,” Cole said. “God knows what these people are doing with them piled up in their kitchen!”
On Friday, NewsChannel 21 noticed there were baskets available at the east entrance of the store. However, the rack at the west entrance was empty.
“I saw about six baskets in there today, but the one rack was totally empty, so perhaps some people have returned them out of a feeling of guilt,” Cole said.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with a representative at the Redmond Safeway store by phone, who did not wish to be identified. She confirmed the stacks of shopping baskets located at two entrances of the store have vanished since the start of the plastic bag ban.
Joe Gilliam, of the Northwest Grocery Association, said the organization has not heard from grocery stores about shopping basket thefts.
“If people in Redmond are taking baskets in response to the plastic bag ban, we ask them to please stop,” Gilliam said Friday. “Customers should feel free to ask their grocer if they need extra help or assistance with their groceries. Purchasing and using a few reusable bags is much cheaper than paying hundreds of dollars in criminal penalties.”
Jill McGinnis, the director of public affairs for Safeway and Albertsons, said in an email to NewsChannel 21 on Friday the company “isn’t seeing any difference in the amount of plastic baskets being ordered by the stores at this time,” and added, “This does not appear to be a widespread problem.”
She said reusable bags are readily available at an affordable price for customers who may come to stores unprepared.
In another email, Jeffery Temple, the director of corporate affairs for Fred Meyer, told NewsChannel 21 Fred Meyer stores have not reported missing any shopping baskets.