Trinkets: High-Rolling Minicart

High-Rolling Minicart

A tiny gold-plated shopping cart may seem like a bad joke in these recessionary times. But to Jamie Reidy, 45, an out-of-work Los Angeles comic, it's a dream -- or Dreamkeeper, as he calls the foot-high cart. Gold-plated (retailing for $1,000) or chrome-plated ($85), the cart is selling like double-coupon groceries in pricey gift shops and even supermarkets in the U.S., Japan and Europe. "Call it the Pet Rock of the '90s," cracks Reidy, who conceived this "universal image" in 1989 as he wheeled a stray cart in a mall parking lot.

Reidy's minicart sold mostly by word of mouth until...