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Meijer was a local barber who entered the grocery business during the Great Depression. His first employees included his year-old son, Frederik Meijer , who later became chairman of the company.
After studying trends in the grocery industry, Meijer was among the first stores to offer self-service shopping and shopping carts.
He also offered staple items, such as vinegar, at bargain prices. By the s, the company had over two dozen stores located throughout West Michigan. In , the first two Meijer stores opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The store was built with six-inch mm thick floors, so should the concept fail, the nongrocery half could be converted into an indoor car dealership.
New stores were built in the same manner until the mids, when an architect mentioned the extra cost to management. Under his leadership, the Thrifty Acres stores became a success and were renamed Meijer in In , Forbes magazine reported Walmart at the time had failed in what were then known as hypermarkets because Sam Walton and company did not understand the grocery business. Walton launched the first Hypermart USA store in , opening only four stores, the last in An article in Forbes Magazine said Meijer understood the importance of the food business, and it was not something just tacked onto a discount store.
The quality of the produce is very important; poor-quality produce sold by Walmart was the main reason for their lack of success. By contrast, surveys said then and now that Meijer ranks high on produce quality. With the increasing dominance of Walmart throughout the country during the s and up to the present, Meijer is facing the effects of an intensely competitive retail industry.
In late , the company laid off people from the corporate offices, distribution centers and field offices; a few months later, in January , Meijer laid off 1, employees and managerial staff,  leading to speculation that the company was losing profitability and market share.
A marketing professor, Dr. The "new theatrics" for the thenyear-old company originally started as a "new product introduction program" until David Rockwell talked Hank and Fred Meijer into further changes. Rockwell told the Meijers the new introduction program would "work only if it was part of a new overall creative foundation based on a fresher, younger approach, encompassing architecture, interior design, and graphic design". In July , Meijer announced to the Michigan press it would be "restructuring" its Team Leader management positions in all stores, stating layoffs would be "minimal" and necessary "to handle more sophisticated products such as flat-screen TVs and high-priced wines".
Their spokesperson also said the changes were "not about a labor reduction", but fitting people into the right roles. No corporate staff or hourly workers were directly affected. The were given severance packages, while other managers were transferred to other stores or "reassigned to different positions". In , Meijer opened its th supercenter in Swartz Creek, Michigan. Operations[ edit ] Meijer stores are classified as supercenters or hypermarkets a superstore that combines groceries and department store goods in the same store.
Many stores also feature a Meijer-branded gas station and convenience store in front. Several Meijer locations feature alternative fuels, such as E85 , biodiesel , and compressed natural gas. Most Meijer stores are open 24 hours a day, days a year, closing only at 7 p. In , Meijer ranked No. In September , Meijer was ranked No.
Since this photograph, this store has been renovated. In addition to the original Meijer supermarkets and hypermarkets, Meijer opened several concept stores in the s and s. The first were specialty clothing store chains called Copper Rivet, Sagebrush and Tansy. Each store focused on a different form of brand-name clothing: All three chains usually operated in front of existing Meijer stores, or in nearby shopping centers. These clothing chains were dissolved in the s as brand-name clothing became more readily available at competing retailers.
Sagebrush, which at its peak comprised 71 stores,  was sold off in , while Copper Rivet and Tansy stores were closed as their leases expired. At the same time, the chain opened a regular store in Newark. Meijer returned to Cincinnati and soon Kentucky in May , after both Hills and Ames had closed all of their Ohio stores. The concept, despite its appeal of being an easier warehouse club store to join i.
The location in Fraser, Michigan was converted to a regular Meijer store, while the rest were shuttered or sold off. Despite the failure of SourceClub, it did pave the way for its competition to be more lenient with its membership requirements.
During the mids, Meijer expanded to three additional states. The first Meijer location in the Chicago region opened in on Weber Road in the suburb of Bolingbrook. In , the chain announced a new concept in the Chicago region called Meijer Marketplace, comprising smaller stores that focus more on grocery items and pharmacy. The Niles store closed on June 18, The Melrose Park and Berwyn stores closed on June 17, , leaving the Orland Park store as the last remaining small-format Meijer in operation.
Meijer opened its first store within the city of Detroit on July 25, , and its second location within the city on June 11, Meijer opened its first locations in Wisconsin in June Marie ,  and Escanaba ,  with a third location opening in the future in Marquette. Meijer is also be expanding into the Youngstown area with a store in Austintown. The donation carried a stipulation that the state must name the trail the "Fred Meijer White Pine Trail". The state parks department eventually accepted the donation, but the decision created a controversy over naming rights for private donations to public parks.
The previous chair was unpaid.
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It is currently held by Dr. In , Meijer was the first retailer to accept both Apple Pay and CurrentC for purchases in its stores and gas stations despite possible penalties from Merchant Customer Exchange for accepting Apple Pay.
The Yellow Pineapple housed seating for the cafe. Note the translucent wall panels above the yellow area. Interior of a newer Meijer in Cedar Springs, Michigan , which opened in Meijer stores are typically designed with the supermarket section to one side and the general merchandise section to the other side. Exceptions include the Lincoln Park, Michigan and Portage, Indiana stores, both of which were former Super Kmart stores, the Traverse City, Michigan store, a former Grant City store, the former location on Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights, Michigan which relocated to Madison Heights, Michigan in and has been demolished for a shopping center , which was also a former Grant City, the Fraser, Michigan location, which Meijer converted from its failed SourceClub concept store, and the former Newark, Ohio location which was shuttered in , which was one of the stores Meijer purchased from Twin Fair.
Stores built between and featured a curved wall of windows that ran along the area between the entrances, examples include many early locations in Ohio and the Midland, Michigan store many of these such stores have since been renovated into the current exterior design described below.
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Early in the s, Meijer developed new integrated prototypes for their rollouts. One example was the "whimsical" design prototype introduced with the expansion into Indiana. Different shapes and roofing designs created the facade of the building. Most notable was the yellow pineapple constructed from yellow ceramic brick and glass blocks. The different shapes on the facade were to introduce Meijer to Indiana as a "store of discovery". Also notable was the use of a large translucent wall above the grand concourse facing the registers.
This allowed natural light to filter into the area above the registers without actual windows. Another feature of these stores was the introduction of grey concrete panels and silver framing on windows and doors. Slight variations of this prototype were also introduced with the expansion into Illinois and the reentry into Kentucky.
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On August 5, , the store in Fort Gratiot Township, Michigan debuted a new prototype that evolved out of the mids prototype. This was the Presidential prototype, in which the logo was moved to the center of the building. Later Meijer stores of this design introduced the Meijer Fresh logo with the then-current Meijer logo and a large cursive "Fresh" on the right of the Meijer name.
In the year , the Presidential prototype was replaced with the Village Square prototype, which featured fake storefronts running across the front of the building and a barn-like section on which the Meijer logo was situated. That prototype, however, was soon replaced by the Signature Series prototype, which removed the fake storefronts, which itself was replaced in the mids with the current prototype, which features emphasis on the entrances, which feature towering glass walls with a tilted roof, resulting in an "eyebrow" appearance.
Meijer was one of the first hypermarket stores in the US, combining a multitude of merchandise under one roof, when they opened the first Thrifty Acres in Meijer retained Seyferth, Spaulding and Tennyson, a Grand Rapids public relations firm, to help orchestrate the recall effort.
In January , a criminal investigation was launched by the Michigan State Police  into the legality of the scheme. Records indicate the PR firm retained by Meijer had arranged a meeting with a small nonprofit organization which favored the Meijer store, but had not yet formally taken a position on the recall.
With the persuasion of the PR firm, the organization, known as the "Acme Taxpayers for Responsible Government", formed a recall committee and began to promote the recall election.
Seyferth researched the plausibility of a recall, wrote justification for the recall and oversaw the agenda for the meeting with Acme Taxpayers. The store eventually opened in Meijer was one of only three companies out of over graded to receive a low score.