We moved to Michigan during late winter of 1987. This was a big change. We were 750 miles from our Iowa hometown. Hubs and I morphed from newlywed rookies to seasoned veterans in the marriage department (18 years and counting then) and had 3 kids, 16, 11 and 7. Although the two states were similar weather wise (more snow in Michigan, Iowa totaled more blizzards), there were many differences.
In the natural resource department Michigan took the prize in water (the mighty Great Lakes plus thousands of smaller ones) and trees (billions and billions). Iowa has better farmland, crops and the meat industry is up to the task of feeding the world. Iowa had a couple of great grocery store chains like Fareway and Hy-Vee, but neither could compare to what became my favorite shopping mecca after we moved to Jackson. A chain called Meijer (Thrifty Acres).
I’ve lavished praise about Meijer on my blog before. A colossal shopping experience with a mixture of (remember this is 1987) K-Mart, Walmart, popular grocery store, lumber yard, drug store combination. Jackson did not yet have Menard’s, Lowe’s or Home Depot. Established in the 1930’s and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Meijer family had their finger on the pulse on how families wanted to shop. With approximately 250 stores in 6 Midwest states, Meijer’s goal was really one-stop-shopping. No need to drive another 4 miles down the road to the lumberyard or bank.
One of the kids need a haircut? Meijer’s store had a barber/beauty shop. Hubs spilled a glop of ketchup on his suit jacket? Just haul it along when you’re at Meijer and drop it off to be picked up, dry cleaned and retuned to our favorite store. Want to rent a VCR tape of Adventures in Babysitting? Stop in while you’re at Meijer. They carried several copies of all the latest releases.
Right after we moved, the boys were playing basketball in the driveway and broke a small pane of glass in our garage door. Hubs gave me the measurements and while I was shopping, the Meijer lumber department cut the glass for me. (We replaced panes twice, after that John removed all the glass and replaced them with wood panels, cut to size at Meijer of course). We had several doors leading outside of our rambling ranch. We bought 4 Forever Storm doors-at Meijer.
One small Meijer section was a restaurant where you could get an omelette, toast and coffee for a couple bucks. If hubby was tired and cranky (much like hauling the kids along) he could sit and enjoy a fresh donut or bagel while people watching or visiting someone at the next table. But he often roamed the store while I shopped because he was as fascinated with it as I was. Don’t bother with a trip to the liquor store, there’s plenty of booze, mixes, wine and beer at Meijer.
Have a package to mail, need a money order, pay your Consumer’s bill, or buy stamps? No need to go to the post office, Meijer had its own postal department. Need a fancy bonsai shrub, some mulch, tray of annuals, a fresh flower bouquet or bird bath? Right, it was all in the Meijer nursery. Prescriptions got filled, Shannon needed a new pair of tights, Josh outgrew his boots again, or a new Bugle Boy shirt for Adam, some marked half off-at Meijer’s. Need a couple of porterhouse steaks but want them cut thicker? Meijer meat department. You can see how I became so smitten with this chain.
With the demise of K-Mart, Montgomery Wards, Sears and others you realize businesses that remain stagnant or refuse to update, remodel or change don’t have a long future ahead of them. And Meijer did change with the times. More stores were staying open 24/7 and only closing a couple days a year. Some people wanted/needed to shop at 10 pm while daddy was watching Sports Center and the kiddos were sound asleep. A couple years after the aforementioned big box stores opened, Meijer got rid of lumber, doors, glass and downsized several other departments that were lagging behind, because there was stiff competition from these new businesses.
But Meijer never scrimped in the grocery/produce/meat/bakery/frozen foods department. It’s awesome and extensive. Why supply 8 varieties of potato chip when you can offer 20? Hubs grew perturbed when he was along because the plumbing or nuts/bolts and screws had dwindled down to a couple of packages of picture hangers when he expected the department to look the same as 1990 before Lowe’s and Menards arrived.
It’s because I’ve been a loyal Meijer customer for over 30 years, (often shocked when I return from a 2 week vacation to find my store is still open-without my shopping or money) an unpaid champion/cheerleader/advocate that I feel entitled/compelled to (gasp) criticize Meijer. I am so ticked off with my favorite store! Because they have incorporated a new sales gimmick that discriminates against every senior citizen or any shopper on a fixed income. I’m not allowed the savings unless I’m willing to buy the number of products the store insists on. It’s a racket and a bad business move. Why should I be penalized into purchasing 3 enormous boxes of cereal so I can get them for 3 bucks a piece instead of $4.50? If I only need one, I have to pay 4.50. Is this really good business? Is it fair? Not hardly.
I realize it’s been a tough year. For all of us. The pandemic, first time ever I experienced empty shelves in the grocery store and shortened shopping hours. For months Meijer didn’t offer their weekly sales flyer that normally comes with the Sunday paper. They still have not recovered because this week’s ad is one newspaper sized sheet, so 4 half pages when they used to have 10 or 12 half sheets. Of the skimpy sale items listed on 4 half sheets this week, 40 of them require a certain quantity if I want to get the savings. Forty. Requiring me to buy anywhere from (2 or more) to 10. So if I buy 9 yogurt containers I have to pay regular price unless I ante up for that 10th one.
Each time I walk into Meijer (we have 2 stores in Jackson) I stop a manager and voice my concerns about their crazy strict sales requirements, hoping they will pass my dissatisfaction on to the powers that be at headquarters. I hate to think my love affair with shopping at Meijer has come to end. But they need to change this discriminatory sales practice to get back in my good graces…