THRIFTY ACRES / MEIJER

The merchandising legacy of Dutch immigrant Hendrik Meijer ["Miy-ir"] began with the opening of his Northside Grocery, in Greenville, Michigan, on June 30, 1934. The venture did well, and by 1960, there were twenty-four stores in western Michigan.

Meijer was one of the first retailers to adopt the "superstore" or hypermarket concept in the United States. A 100,000 square foot "Thrifty Acres" operation, combining a supermarket and general merchandise store, opened in Grand Rapids in 1962.

The concept took off and Thrifty Acres stores were built throughout Michigan, and in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. By 1986, when the official name of the stores was changed to Meijer, there were fifty locations. The size of the typical store was now in the neighborhood of 180,000 square feet.

Encroachment of Wal-Mart into Meijer territory was well underway by the early 1990s. Today Meijer, whose operations are based in Walker, a Grand Rapids suburb, fends off increasing competition from the Arkansas-based mega merchandiser. At present, Meijer operates over two hundred stores in the states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.