Meijer (pronounced "Meyer") is a giant of retailing in the Midwest. The company's huge combination grocery and general merchandise stores average 200,000 to 250,000 sq. ft. each (or about the size of four regular grocery stores) and stock about 120,000 items, including Meijer private-label products. Meijer operates some 200 locations; half are in Michigan, while the rest spread across four other nearby states. Customers can choose from 40-plus departments, including apparel, electronics, hardware, and toys. Most stores also sell gasoline, offer banking services, and have multiple in-store restaurants. Founder Hendrik Meijer opened his first store in 1934; the business is still family owned and run.
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer has 104 stores in its home state. Ohio is the chain's second-largest market with 40 stores, followed by Indiana and Illinois with 30 stores and 20 stores, respectively. The retailer has about 10 shops in Kentucky.
In addition its large combination grocery and general merchandise stores, Meijer operates about 175 gas stations, a pair of car washes, and about a half a dozen smaller Meijer Grocery Express stores.
One of America's largest private companies, Meijer's stores rang up an estimated $14.6 billion in fiscal 2013 (ended January), compared with $14.4 billion in sales in fiscal 2012.
Although the discount superstore format is most often referred to in conjunction with rival Wal-Mart, Meijer is its pioneer. But that hasn't stopped the world's #1 retailer from muscling in on Meijer's markets. Meijer is also facing increased pressure from warehouse club stores, drugstores, and supermarket chains, like Kroger. In response, the chain has added fresh produce and meat departments to improve its grocery offering. Some of that produce is purchased locally through the company's "Home Grown" initiative. In March 2013 the company acquired a local family-owned dairy in Holland, Michigan to supply milk to its stores in Michigan. Meijer plans to invest more than $8 million to expand the dairy plant, which it renamed Purple Cow Creamery (formerly Bareman's Dairy).
Meijer is also cutting prices and renovating its stores. It's also experimenting with "smaller" food-centered formats designed for more densely populated locations, such as Chicago and its suburbs -- a key market for the company. (Wal-Mart also has big plans for the greater Chicago area.) Indeed, in 2011 Meijer launched a new store concept tailored for the Chicago market called Meijer Marketplace. At 90,000 square feet (relatively small for Meijer) the new "mini" supercenter is located in Melrose Park. The Melrose Park store offers both food and general merchandise, and stock foods popular with Hispanics and Italians, in a bid to cater to local tastes. It also houses a full-service pharmacy. The company, which opened its 200th store in spring 2013, broke ground in 2012 for its first grocery supercenter in Detroit. It's also making plans to expand into Wisconsin.