Retailer surprises holiday shoppers


Doug Meijer, left, a Meijer board member, pays for a family's shopping cart of items on behalf of the retailer. Courtesy Meijer

A West Michigan retailer is in the holiday spirit.

For the fifth year in a row, Meijer executives and store directors played Santa as part of the retailer’s “Very Merry Meijer,” a one-day event to surprise an unsuspecting customer at each Meijer store by paying for his or her entire shopping cart. The Meijer cashier who handled the surprise also is gifted with a $100 Meijer gift card.

This year’s event took place at each of Meijer’s 241 stores and Bridge Street Market. Over the past five “Very Merry Meijer” events, the retailer gifted more than 1,150 customers their shopping carts full of toys, clothes, electronics, food and small appliances totaling more than $500,000.

“After five years, ‘Very Merry Meijer’ is still my favorite day of the year. There's nothing quite like playing Santa with our Meijer team members and revealing the big surprise for our customers," said Doug Meijer, board member. "We know the holidays can be stressful, but this event truly spreads Christmas cheer."

Meijer shopper Jennifer Ferris was co-hosting her family Christmas party and about to fill her second cart when Swartz Creek Meijer Store Director Terri Greenwald came up and surprised her by paying for everything.

"At Christmastime, miracles can happen," Ferris said. "It's just a miracle, an absolute miracle. I'm very thankful for it."

In Homer Glenn, Illinois, Jennie Gatses, who lost everything she owned to a fire last month, was out purchasing items — laundry baskets, utensils, towels, sheets and blankets — to replenish what she'd lost, plus do a little Christmas shopping. Gatses said having everything paid for was a much-appreciated Christmas surprise.

In most cases, the store director revealed the gift upon checkout, but Hank Meijer, Doug Meijer, Mark Meijer and Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes also were present on occasion to help spread the holiday cheer.

"We strive all year long to put our customers first, and provide them with a great shopping experience through the quality products we sell, the service we provide and the many ways we offer savings," Keyes said. "The ‘Very Merry Meijer’ event continues to be that extra special way we express our appreciation to them, and our team members. That is what the holidays are all about."

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