I first shopped at a Meijers Thrifty Acres back in my college days at the store in Okemos, Michigan. It was love at first shop. I could buy everything I needed at Meijers; food, clothing, liquor and gas. “One-stop shopping” was truly one of the most innovative marketing creations in Michigan history. When I came back home to Detroit, A&P, Kroger and Farmer Jack existed within the Detroit City limits but nothing compared to Meijer.
If I needed gym shoes I had to go to the mall. If I needed a beer, I had to go to the party store. If I wanted a bagel I had to drive to Southfield, Michigan! There were no retail stores that compared to Meijers Thrifty Acres! Super KMarts were still on the drawing board! And nobody else had those piping hot rotisserie chickens that you could buy and then run home and gobble up the whole thing before it cooled off!
Fortunately for me, I only stayed in Detroit for about 2 years after graduating from college. I ended up in western Michigan where Meijers Thrifty Acres were popping up all over the landscape! Going to the Meijers in Springfield, Michigan, where I lived for a year, became my social event for the week. I could wander up and down the isles with my big city bravura, pick up some local talent, a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk! One Stop Shopping became my mantra.
I found out, while living in the Dutch Reformed Western Michigan that Frederik Meijer had made a secret pledge to never build one of his majestic stores in any urban area aka ‘the hood’. Ole man Meijer didn’t feel that that urban inhabitants were worthy of his pristine establishments. “One Stop Shopping” would most likely lead to full time shoplifting!
To his company’s credit, people from the hood could work at Meijers and the company has always been an industry leader in the hiring of developmentally challenged personnel.
When Frederik died in 2011, I started hearing rumors of plans to build a Meijers in Detroit. I didn’t believe it at first but the rumor persisted. Apparently his sons value commerce over religious bigotry. Thank you Doug & Hank! We vitally need good stores in the hood!