Scottsdale mom invents recyclable shopping cart liner
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – For Andi Barness-Rubin, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the invention. The Scottsdale woman created a recyclable shopping cart liner to protect people from germs and dirt that get caught on carts.
Barness-Rubin, who started Cart Safe in April 2020, points out an oft-cited study by microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona – also known as Dr Germ – who found E. coli and other bacteria during a random check of shopping carts.
“Once we learned that the amount of bacteria found on shopping cart surfaces was higher than those found in public restrooms,” said Barness-Rubin, “we knew we had to create a blanket that would add that extra layer of protection if needed between buyers and shopping carts.
The mother of three – sons 15, 20 and 23 – said keeping families healthy inspired the invention she created and conceived. She filed for a patent. Barness did not give a specific number of cart liners it has sold.
About 42% of businesses are owned by women, according to a 2019 American Express Report, but women entrepreneurs are often paid less than men and have less access to venture capital to finance their startups.
Barness-Rubin and Arizona State University business professors Hitendra Chaturved, WP Carey School of Business, and Dennis Hoffman, director of WP Carey’s Seidman Research Institute, spoke in separate interviews about the pros and cons of starting a business. during COVID-19, women-owned businesses, and what makes a business sustainable. Hoffman spoke by email.
How your own life can lead to a business
Barness-Rubin: I was trying to find a way to protect myself and my family when I went to the grocery store. I searched for something to protect myself from germs and bacteria with the basket and there was nothing available so I created one.
I looked up “how dirty is a shopping cart“, because I was a little curious. The only place I went during the pandemic was at the grocery store. I wanted to know what my exposure to germs and bacteria was. I was really shocked at the amount of bacteria which is more than a public toilet. I think it’s because the shopping carts weren’t really cleaned. Maybe once every two months they were cleaned before the pandemic. “
Businesses must maintain their autonomy once the COVID-19 pandemic is over
Dennis Hoffman: The memory of the pandemic seems to be fading quickly, based on my assessment of recent restaurant activity in Scottsdale, but a product like this can last as long as it receives rave reviews from of customers that can be published on the site, and that it adapts to all shapes of carts and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Hitendra Chaturvedi: I think Cart Safe is a great business idea. Hats off to creativity and ingenuity.
Here are two things to watch out for. What happens when the pandemic is gone? Will people buy it again? Will someone with deep pockets copy the idea? How will she compete?
Barness-Rubin: Even though COVID is on the way out, people will still be concerned about germs and dirt, so I will continue to promote my product on Amazon and Facebook.
Getting the word out is a challenge for small business owners
Barness-Rubin: A lot of people don’t know how to find our website, so it’s important for this company to get our name out there and get the word out in any way they can.
On the one hand, it’s not like people can search and search Google, because they’ve never heard of it. Getting the word out can cost you more than what you want to spend, so these are just a few hurdles for everyone to know what the product is. Another challenge is that many customers wanted the item but couldn’t afford the price so I give discounts when I can.
Chaturvedi: It’s important when you think of business that you think of execution when it comes to marketing yourself. It’s about showing what your business can offer to the public and showing how their product will be different from others.
Being your own boss is intoxicating
Barness-Rubin: I think it’s a challenge but great in that I don’t need to have a boss and I can set my own work schedule. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to work for someone else again.
It’s very exciting to create something that takes a lot of hard work, especially when you are creating a product that is new to the market and trying to make people understand what it is.
Even when times are tough, businesses can still be successful
Chaturvedi: Starting a business right now is likely to present a lot of new opportunities for those who can understand how consumers will react in the future.
Hoffman: Knowing your market and recognizing how consumer behavior has likely changed is very important. (There is always) uncertainty around changes in consumer behavior. We know the changes underway but how many will be permanent?
Women entrepreneurs face obstacles, opportunities
Hoffman: Women and minorities face challenges due to discrimination, but they also have access to targeted government programs with the aim of mitigating the impact of discrimination.
Chaturvedi: There are certainly challenges for women and minorities when it comes to being an entrepreneur. I myself am a minority because I am an Indian immigrant. I think it is important not to prepare for the worst and to think that I am a woman or that I am a minority so I will not stand a chance and instead come with confidence and show people what your skills are.
Barness-Rubin: There are challenges, but I don’t really feel different from other business owners. I think we’re all doing our best, and I don’t know what it’s like to be a male business owner. I think a lot of women are afraid to take a chance, so it was very important for me to step out of my comfort zone and start Cart Safe.