Machine sanitizes carts at Calera supermarket

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

A Calera grocery store is utilizing an innovative piece of equipment made by another Shelby County-based company to efficiently sanitize its shopping carts.

Food Outlet, located on Alabama 25 in downtown Calera, is one of five Alabama stores to receive a “Sanitizit” machine from the company of the same name.

The machine consists of a square-shaped arch with an opening just big enough to push grocery shopping carts through. It applies a fine mist that sanitizes the entire cart and can even treat multiple carts simultaneously if they are pushed through in a single row.

“Obviously, there’s an increased demand for sanitizing,” said Hugh Lee, inventor of Sanitizit and company principal. “Shopping cart handles have always been in the top 10 dirtiest surfaces. I was already aware of this years ago.”

The idea came to Lee during a grocery shopping trip with his family. He held his small twins while his wife wiped down the shopping cart. When she was finished, the twins sat in the cart’s basket, which had not even been wiped down. Lee said it took way too long for customers to sanitize a cart manually.

“That’s just an inefficient process,” he said. “Stores wanted something to clean the entire cart, not just the handle and the seat.”

Food Outlet Vice President Bill Davis said the machine works well and is easy to operate.

“It’s a big deal. It just reassures that the buggies are clean,” Davis said. “It’s just an extra safeguard for the customers at this time.”

Food Outlet’s machine was installed Saturday, April 4. The other stores in the chain receiving the machines are located in Leeds, Tarrant, Clanton and Brent.

Prior to the machine’s installation, Davis said employees were wiping down the store’s carts regularly. The fine mist applied by the Sanitizit, however, can reach all the nooks and crannies that a manual cleaning cannot reach.

Sanitizit has been around for about eight years. There are two sides to the company—the sanitizing machines and a backpack cleaning service for businesses and residents. Food Outlet is currently using both services for its store.

“There are a lot of companies trying to get into the sanitizing business right now,” Lee said. “We were sanitizing when sanitizing wasn’t cool.”

Lee’s company has serviced doctor’s offices, salons, gyms, call centers, warehouses and more. He is also in the process of working with hospitals, airports and other venues to sanitize wheelchairs.

Lee’s wife, Jaime Lee, is on the sales and marketing side of the company. The couple reside in Indian Springs Village.

“As much as we spend with grocery stores, this shows that the store cares for the customers and families that are shopping in their stores,” Jaime Lee said.

For more information about Sanitizit, visit the company’s website at Sanitizit.com. Food Outlet shares updates on the store’s Facebook page.