New Book Offers Glimpse into Life of Meijer

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New Book Offers Glimpse into Life of Meijer

A new book recounting the life of Fred Meijer, the 89-year-old grocery entrepreneur who, with his father, Hendrik, turned one store in Greenville, Mich., into a chain of nearly 200 supercenters across the Midwest, was released this week during a celebratory gathering at his namesake Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

The 351-page book was written by Bill Smith, a retired Meijer VP of marketing and advertising, and Larry ten Harmsel, a retired Western Michigan University professor and dean of WMU’s Lee Honors College.

"Fred Meijer: Stories of His Life" features a variety of interesting information about the pioneering retailer -- from a broad list of contributors ranging from former U.S. presidents and ambassadors to clerks at the checkout.

Among the insightful collection of biographical data, photos and anecdotes, readers learn how Meijer had fun while changing the way people shop. "I've always said it's all about the journey, not the destination," said he. "This book does a great job describing my journey so far."

The authors said they spent several years talking with more than 150 people to capture anecdotes about Meijer, many told for the first time. “I continue to be amazed at how many people Fred has touched in his life,” said Smith, a former Meijer executive who worked with the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer for more than four decades. “Every person we talked with recounted a special time or story of Fred, each one contributing to an amazing chronicle of this man.”

The book, which will be sold at all Meijer locations and online through for $7.99 for the paperback edition and $11.99 for a hardcover edition that is available only in west Michigan, offers students of business and life alike a fun-filled and daring road map to success.

“Fred’s innovation and creation of the supercenter concept was revolutionary,” noted ten Harmsel. “As a business man and a community leader, he provides the ultimate example of tenacity and philanthropy, and our book tells the stories that reflect this man's life's work.”