A modest barber decided to open a grocery store in the middle of the Great Depression to supply groceries to his customers. He bought some goods on credit and together with his 14-year old son, Fred, opened the North Side grocery in Greenville, Michigan. That was 1934. He later renamed the store Meijer’s Grocery.

Hendrick Meijer was the name of that barber. Hendrick was a Dutch immigrant who studied the trends witnessed in the grocery business and introduced self-service and shopping carts to his stores (concepts pioneered as early as 1916 by Piggly Wiggly grocery stores).

‘Thrifty Acres’ was the name of the store introduced by the Meijer’s in 1962, which saw the birth of the supercenter concept in the U.S. Customers could purchase all the goods they needed in one shopping trip because the store had a grocery section and department store. In 1949, the family-owned grocery opened two stores in Grand Falls, Michigan where the family had moved.

Fred Meijer took over the business, and in 1986, the name was changed to Meijer, which is still in use today with the tag line ‘Higher Standards, lower Prices.’ Fred died at 91 years of age in 2011 November.

On one hand, Meijer has been laying off staff and has implemented several cutbacks, but on the other, it has opened up new stores in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. The cutbacks were in a bid to compete effectively in the grocery business that had big players such as Walmart Corp.

Meijer are hypermarkets (combined department stores and groceries) or supercenters, which also feature Meijer branded gas stations and convenience stores with 199 stores in the country.