Sylvan N. Goldman

Class of
Sylvan N. Goldman

Sylvan N. Goldman

"There is no question that his has been one of the few inventions that made possible the self-service operation in supermarkets and drugstores or general merchandise stores."
L.A. Times, 1978


Oklahoma native and son of Latvian immigrants, Sylvan Nathan Goldman grew up in merchandising, learning the business from his father and uncles who owned grocery stores in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Goldman was 15 when his family moved to Tulsa and he went to work in one of his uncle’s stores. Two years later, he volunteered for Army service in World War I. Following the honorable discharge, he joined his brother and other relatives in one, then another, chain of grocery stores. During the 1930’s when 10 grocery store chains in Oklahoma City closed their doors, the Goldmans bought the Humpty Dumpty chain at a bankruptcy sale and built it into one of central Oklahoma’s largest chains. He served as president of both the National Supermarket Institute and the International Food Congress. Goldman was also attentive to the needs of higher education and established the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies at OU. He received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award National Citation in 1963 and the Oklahoma Blood Institute was named in his honor in 1981.

Fun fact

Sylvan N. Goldman’s invention, the grocery shopping cart, made him a multimillionaire and became the most used item on four wheels for public use, second only to the automobile. In 1936, he founded Folding Carrier Corp. to manufacture his “folding basket carriers,” and a year later added a baby seat to the design. By 1947, he had introduced the “nest cart,” the prototype of the product we all use today.

Oklahoma connections

Goldman was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma.


Oklahoma City






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