If you live in Michigan, you have shopped at Meijer. It is the superstore of superstores up here. It has now expanded into several other state’s, but it used to be just a Michigan thing. It’s pronounced Meyer; we have a large Dutch population in Michigan, but that’s story for another post. Oh, and the people of Michigan add ownership to a lot of business names, so you may also here it referred to as Meijer’s. (I believe this started with the opening of the first Ford factory. I’ll do my homework and update everyone later.)
Meijer was founded in 1934 in Greenville, MI as a family grocery store and has since become a very large chain of stores. Over the years it is has grown to be so much more than a grocery store. Like I said, it is the superstore of all superstores. When I was a kid there was no super Walmart or super Target. As a matter of fact we didn’t even have these stores at all. And I don’t think other places had anything like Meijer. Anytime someone came to visit us from out of state they always wanted to go to Meijer because Meijer had EVERYTHING. The first Meijer Thrifty Acres was opened in 1962 and according to their official website this was “the birth of the supercenter and the springboard for a concept that would grow into a retail phenomenon”. You could (and still can) get groceries, health and beauty items, clothes, sporting good, books, garden supplies, automotive supplies and pretty much anything else you can think of. So it was really quite innovative at the time.
It was a great concept and of course it worked. It’s cold and snowy here a good portion of the year, no one wants to run errands and get in and out of the car to go in and out of buildings in frigid temperatures. So it’s not surprising that one stop shopping would appeal to Michigan residents. I’ve never known a time without a super center and as a kid I never realized how spoiled we were to have them.
The Meijer family has not only been very successful in the retail industry, they have also been quite generous. You can find their name on hospitals, biking and hiking trails and of course the Fredrick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. It’s a lot to talk about in one blog post so I will save those endeavors for another time.
I find the story of Meijer so inspiring. It is what many see as achieving the ultimate “American Dream”. Hendrik Meijer immigrated to this country, worked hard, took risks and achieved enormous success. Before he owned a grocery store, he was a barber. I’m not looking to become the CEO of a major retail chain or anything, but if a barber can start a grocery store that grows to what Meijer is today, I should be able to make something out of the dreams I have if I’m willing to chase after them.