Naples Daily News July 29, 2017

Robin DeMatia

If you split your grocery shopping list among different stores, you aren't alone01 LEDE NDN 0726 Happy ShopperBuy Photo

(Photo: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News)

Eric Parker and his wife lived in a Chicago high-rise for 20 years.

An engineer and inventor who holds more than 50 patents, Parker began to think there must be a better way to get groceries from the store to his car and up the elevator to his home. Especially heavy items such as cases of water.

So he invented the Happy Shopper, a personal cart with a couple of unique elements that Parker patented.

“I’ve always enjoyed developing products,” Parker said of his career in the auto industry and later with Illinois Tool Works.

Eric Parker in his Naples home on Tuesday, July 25,

Eric Parker in his Naples home on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Photo: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News)

Retired since 2009 and a full-time Naples resident since last year, the 73-year-old runs a consulting business and self-published the book “Focus for the Fuzzy Front End of Product Development” in 2013.

Happy Shopper weighs 3 pounds, is made of water-resistant extruded polypropylene and will carry up to 50 pounds. Unlike other personal carts, it has a center axle that allows it to be folded outward to be 2½ inches thick for easy storage. The axle and side fold designs are patented.

The cart also features “hitchhikers” that let the Happy Shopper attach to an in-store metal shopping cart, so it’s available at checkout, and that also hold bags once they are filled. The entire cart and anything attached to it can be slid into the trunk of a car. Due to the design, the wheels do not move when the cart is empty.

Parker envisions people using Happy Shopper for grocery shopping, carting items to picnics and the beach, for business travel and many other uses.

He said the ideal customers are people who live in cities, seniors and anyone who has difficulty lifting heavy groceries.

Most components, including the board and axles, are made in the United States. He found the best injected molded wheels overseas. Assembly takes place in Illinois.

Parker is selling the product online at happyshoppercart.com for an introductory rate of $29.95 with free shipping in the United States. He plans to sell it on Amazon soon, as well.

So far he has been unable to interest large distributors or retail stores to carry Happy Shopper because, he says, they want to see him sell a large quantity and be successful first.