GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan historical marker now stands site of the Meijer “Thrifty Acres” store that pioneered the idea of a shopping supercenter.
The Grand Rapids Press reports the marker was unveiled Monday at the site of the store, 28th St. and Kalamazoo Ave., in Grand Rapids.
Frederik Meijer and his father, Hendrik — founders of the Midwest retailer — were credited with pioneering the supercenter store format.
“We are proud to be recognized for the innovative foresight our father and grandfather demonstrated when they opened ‘Thrifty Acres,’” Hank Meijer, co-chairman of Meijer Inc., said. “They saw an opportunity to bring families more retail choices and ultimately succeeded in breaking down traditional barriers between selling groceries and selling clothes or hardware. My father and grandfather helped revolutionize retail and left us an incredible legacy to build upon.”
The store opened as a 17,000-square-foot grocery in 1958 and became the chain’s first superstore in 1962 with the addition of 75,000 square feet of space for non-grocery items.
Renamed Meijer Thrifty Acres, the store featured a 7-acre parking lot, along with 18 checkout lanes – a service unheard of at the time – that allowed customers to do one-stop shopping — paying for everything in a single transaction, regardless of the variety or quantity purchased.
It’s “just exciting to have the historical significance of this corner recognized,” Hank Meijer said.
Meijer has since expanded into five additional Midwest states and now employs more than 65,000 people in 219 stores, six distribution centers and several manufacturing facilities, according to the company. Meijer company recently opened its first two stores in southeastern Wisconsin and are opening two additional stores in the Milwaukee area in August.
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