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07/29/2021

Meijer Seeking Michigan Business Owners of Color for Product Showcase

Retailer teams with business incubator Start Garden on supplier diversity event
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Goldschmidt profile picture
Meijer Seeking Michigan Business Owners of Color for Product Showcase Start Garden
Meijer and Michigan business incubator Start Garden will host a new product showcase in September to enhance supplier diversity.

Meijer plans to host a supplier diversity product presentation event in September, giving Michigan businesses owned by people of color the chance to introduce their offerings for interested Meijer merchants.

The event the fourth such showcase that the retailer has hosted since 2020 will take place with the involvement of Start Garden, a business incubator based in Meijer’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., and focused on empowering startups through financial, intellectual and social capital.

“Our supplier diversity efforts represent an ongoing commitment to our customers and team members to offer products and invest in partnerships that represent them and their communities,” said Peter Whitsett, Meijer’s EVP of merchandising and marketing. “We look forward to expanding our product assortment and creating a positive economic impact in our communities through this event.”

The multi-day in-person event will focus on apparel, footwear and accessories, and general merchandise. Michigan-based businesses owned by people of color and selling retail-ready products in those categories can apply by Friday, Aug. 27 for consideration.

“After the success of our first three virtual supplier diversity events, we’re excited to try something a little different by focusing on local brands and offering a live opportunity for these vendors to build relationships with our team,” noted Jamie Akemann, group VP of global sourcing, indirect procurement, supplier diversity and product quality at Meijer.

After applications for the event are submitted, Meijer and Start Garden will review and select the vendors to take part in the September event. There, Meijer merchants will meet with the selected vendors to learn more about their products, business models and plans for growth via five-minute presentations. Following these, Meijer merchants will give retail opportunities to vendors ready to expand into Meijer stores with products that will best serve the retailer’s customers. Vendors that are not ready to receive business offers at that time will be invited to Meijer’s upcoming Roadmap to Retail event to learn the skills to help them succeed in the future. Through this event, Meijer aims to nurture long-term relationships with vendors and help them develop into future partners.

Diverse vendors that don’t qualify for this event and those offering services or products outside of the categories noted above can submit their information for consideration through the Meijer’s supplier diversity page.

As well as joining with Meijer to host this event, Start Garden is one of the retailer's racial inequity investment partners: In 2020, the business incubator was one of 22 agencies across the Midwest to share in a $5 million investment from the retailer.

Meijer operates 257 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 18 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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