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Ask Matt ... why Walmart has so many buggies?

Walmart leads retailers in shopping carts. [MATT MATTESON/Hendersonville Lightning] Walmart leads retailers in shopping carts. [MATT MATTESON/Hendersonville Lightning]

Q. Why are there so many shopping carts at Walmart? Target and Sam’s Club only have a fraction of those.

I caught up with a shopping cart jockey at the Walmart in the Highlands Square Shopping Center. He said they have 1,800 carts and he would know more than anyone. Some carts are stored outdoors or inside the covered area of the store, some are in use, and the rest are in the parking lot stalls or otherwise left unattended. My guy also said that on Black Friday just before Christmas, they used all the carts that were serviceable. That may be hard to believe, but it should answer your question about why so many. Now for those who like a visual comparison, if you lined up all of Walmart’s buggies end to end, they would stretch from the Historic Courthouse on Main Street all the way to Hendersonville High School.

Q. On a recent visit to the Outer Banks I noticed that many license plates on the islands had an “OBX” prefix. Why so many and can we get one for “HVL” out here?

I was able to solve this puzzling question with the help of Marsha Harris of the state DMV’s Special License Plate Unit. North Carolina law sets the cost, appearance and distribution of all license plates issued within the state — except the Outer Banks plates. The exception was made in 1999 at the request of the Dare County Board of Directors. The “OBX” license plate is not considered a specialty plate by DMV and may only be issued by the Manteo License Plate Agency in Dare County. Each plate begins with OBX followed by sequential numbers.
A specialty plate carries a logo of one’s favorite group such as Duke, NASCAR, Ducks Unlimited or Retired Army. There are about 200 such choices. Specialty plates initially cost $30, half of which is returned to the organization featured on the plate. One form of specialty plate is the personalized plate also known as a vanity plate which typically displays the owner’s name or initials or some cryptic reference to the owner’s lifestyle.
It does not surprise me that the OBX exception was made during Sen. Marc Basnight’s tenure in the state legislature. Basnight, from Manteo, was president pro tempore of the state senate and held sway in the statehouse for many years. It is unlikely that a license plate exception could be made for Hendersonville or even Western North Carolina for that matter. One thing about having OBX on your license plate is that with so many seasonal visitors, it helps identify the locals. Whether that’s good or bad is another question.

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Send questions to askmattm@gmail.com.