By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published: March 11, 2014 – 06:16 PM
A grocery customer who uses a walking cane was the father of invention for a cane holder now available at all 15 Acme Fresh Markets.
The customer, who does not want to be identified, uses a motorized cart while shopping, placing his cane in the cart’s basket.
“He was concerned that germs [on the bottom of the canes] came into contact with food items,” said Doug Flinn, the store director of Acme at 2630 Bailey Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
Also, the customer noted that cane users sometimes forget their canes, leaving them in the baskets. Flinn said he was well aware of that problem. “We’d have five to 10 canes here,” at any given time, said Flinn, a 40-year employee of the Acme chain.
Last year, the customer showed up at the Bailey Road store with a simple device to store canes inside the cart, while also making them more visible: a cane holder, made with a length of PVC pipe.
Flinn, intrigued, allowed the customer to attach holders to four of the motorized carts, using sturdy plastic ties. Sometime later, Acme President Steve Albrecht was visiting the store, and Flinn pointed out the cane holders.
Albrecht ran with the idea. He brokered a licensing deal with the customer to allow Acme workers to make holders for the dozens of motorized carts in the chain.
“They’re so popular,” said Katie Swartz, Acme’s director of marketing. The holder “truly did respond to a need.”