I'm not exactly car free, though I don't own a car of my own. But anyway, at the end of the summer, I did a 60km round trip from the small town I live in to nearest major economic center. I stopped at Walmart to say hi to my Mom, and then look around for a while. When I was leaving, the greeter lady informed me that I was not allowed to have a backpack with me, and that in the future, I should leave it with customer service. However, the thing is that I just don't feel entirely comfortable leaving my tools and supplys in the hands of complete strangers. Granted, it may not be that big of a deal to leave them there, but it still is annoying. (I suspect that it might help if my backpack had a zipper so that they could tape the zippers together with that special Wal-Mart tape, and be able to tell if I had opened it since I came in.) Oddly enough, I was in a mega mall once in Calgary with my backpack (again, on a bike ride with a couple of friends), and none of the stores in that mall I visited seemed to have much of a problem with that.
Anybody else have similar problems in big stores? How do you deal with such problems? Do you use different kinds of storage containers? And what about things like panniers? Do you just leave them on the backs of your bikes (If I had a pannier, I would be very afraid to park my bike and leave it on for fear that some yahoo would come along and steal it)? If you have any other such related storys, feel free to share them.