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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Fredrik Meijer

Fredrik Meijer

GRHC - December 28th, 2011

Fred Meijer (December 7, 1919 - November 25, 2011) was an innovative businessman willing to take risks that changed the way people shop in Grand Rapids.



The Interpreter, a weekly Grand Rapids newspaper, selected Fred Meijer as Man of the Year in 1969 because of his enormous impact on the community, both as a businessman and a citizen.

Until 1962 Meijer was strictly a grocery operation. That was the year the first Thrifty Acres discount store was opened at 28th St. and Kalamazoo Ave. “We got into the discount business,” said Meijer, ‘because we were afraid the new discounters in town, people like Arlan’s and Atlantic Mills, would start using groceries as a loss leader to lure customers to the discount stores.”

That first Thrifty Acres was built by Swiss financial interests because the risk didn’t make sense to local bankers. Many felt that a large part of Thrifty Acres’ success was due to combining grocery and non-grocery items in checkout lanes. “Put the money in the till and figure it out later,” commented Meijer.

Meijer was the first major local retailer to break the community tradition of keeping the big stores closed on Sunday. That was one of the most significant local developments in years. It defied the myth that local customs are capable of being dictated by the community’s most conservative citizens. Meijer said he would personally prefer a five-day week, “You’d like a shorter week because you never can escape a sense of responsibility when you’re open.” 

Full Details

TitleFredrik Meijer
KeywordsGlance at the Past, Fredric Meijer, grocery, retail, radio, history, Grand Rapids, historical commission
Pubdate StringDecember 28th, 2011

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