WALKER — In just one lifetime, Meijer Inc. has gone from a small, single grocery store in serene Greenville to one of the largest Midwest retailers with about 145 outlets in many of the busiest markets in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.
Now the family-owned-and-operated company is coming home again.
Last August, Meijer held a groundbreaking ceremony for its 138th store on the same site of its very first.
In 1934, company founder Hendrik Meijer bought $338 worth of goods on credit and opened a tiny grocery store in a space adjacent to his Greenville barbershop. The new store should open this year.
It’s not unusual for a Meijer store to have over 200,000 square feet with 40 departments and more than 130,000 items, which include the company’s private-label products. Many also sell gasoline, offer banking services and have in-store restaurants.
The largest of the Meijer Supercenters, as the bigger stores are known, is located in Traverse City. That Meijer opened last May with 255,000 square feet and 650 employees.
At the other end of the Meijer spectrum are the “village-style” stores.
These outlets run about 155,000 square feet and are designed specifically for smaller markets. The company’s first three opened in Angola and Richmond, Ind., and Defiance, Ohio, a year ago April 4.
Expansion isn’t the only thing on the minds of Meijer executives.
Meijer entered into an agreement last month with ACNielsen, the world’s largest market research firm. ACNielsen will provide Meijer with valuable information on the sale of syndicated consumer products. In turn, Meijer suppliers will get crucial sales information from the company’s trading areas.
“This will significantly enhance our category management process and will facilitate an improved working relationship with our manufacturer partners,” said Dave Perron, Meijer senior vice president of merchandising.
“Now they will be able to analyze sales of their products through our stores with the same view that we use.”
The agreement also allows Meijer to use the ACNielsen software systems to manage and analyze its scanner-based sales data and consumer information. It also gives the company access to ACNeilsen’s Web-based category management intelligence system, when that product becomes available later this year.
With the company always seeming to look to the future from its rich past, it’s easy to see why Hoover’s Online has called Meijer the “green giant” of Midwest retailing and Forbes magazine has put Meijer in 11th place on its Private 500.