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Meijer Celebrates 70th Anniversary

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Meijer hosted a two-hour public party yesterday at its Greenville, Mich. Store -- in close proximity to where the chain got its start -- to commemorate its 70th year in business.

"It hardly seems that long ago," the company's patriarch, Fred Meijer, said in a statement. "We never set out to be the biggest retailer or an innovator in the industry; we were just trying to survive in the midst of the Great Depression. Competition was fierce -- and that has not changed. Now when we look at what we have accomplished -- the first retailer to offer the format of choice, a supercenter -- we see that there is still much to be done."

Meijer is currently the ninth-largest privately owned company in the United States. In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, a 50-year-old barber opened a small grocery store in Greenville, Mich. called Meijer's Grocery. The store soon earned a reputation for low prices, courteous service, and quality merchandise.

In 1962 Fred Meijer convinced his father to evolve the grocery business into what is now the retail format of choice -- a supercenter. Meijer successfully pioneered the "one-stop shopping" concept by adding general merchandise to its stores. These Meijer combination stores, which were known as Meijer Thrifty Acres, allowed shoppers to make all their purchases from one set of checkouts.

By creating over 35 departments within its stores, Meijer could offer everything from pet and garden supplies, hardware, electrical, jewelry, sporting goods, small appliances, fashions, and housewares to toys, stationery, one-hour photo, shoe repair, pharmacy, and a full-line grocery department.

Today Meijer stores range in size from 110,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet. Meijer stores carry over 150,000 items, 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. In addition to national brands, Meijer has developed over 28 private label brands throughout fashions, hardlines, and grocery -- with 3,900 exclusively using the Meijer brand name.

In addition to providing quality products at a low price, Meijer plays an active role within the community. With over 450 team members per store, Meijer promotes community activities and to assist nonprofit organizations through corporate and store donations. Meijer has created strong relationships and volunteer programs to join forces with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, American Red Cross, Children's Miracle Network, March of Dimes, and the American Cancer Society.

With four more stores slated to open in 2004, Meijer plans to open eight to nine stores in 2005. "We want to continue to be a growth company," said John Zimmerman, director of community relations. "In this competitive retail industry, Meijer, a family-owned and operated company, has been successful competing with national and international retailers. With continued focus on product, price, presentation, promotion, and place, Meijer continues to gain market share and fine tune the 'retail format of choice.'"

Meijer runs 159 stores throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
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