Frederik Meijer, who built the Meijer Inc. chain of stores, died at the Spectrum Healthy System in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Nov. 25 following a stroke. He was 91.
He and his father, Hendrik, are credited with inventing the supercenter store format in 1962. Located at 28th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue, the first hypermarket, called Thrifty Acres, was soon followed by more in Lansing and then in nearby states.
The Grand Rapids Press and other media report that in the 1970s, Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, wanted to meet with Fred Meijer to talk about buying his business. Meijer did not want to sell, but did not want to offend Walton. He declined his invitation to meet by saying that he was too busy.
In 1942, the father and son opened a second store in Cedar Springs.
A few years later, Fred Meijer married Lena Rader, a cashier in the Greenville location, the original store his father opened in 1934.
Then, in 1949, a third store opened in Grand Rapids on Fuller Avenue, and the chain continued to grow. Meijer handed over control of the chain to his sons, Hank and Doug, in 1990. Hank Meijer has been CEO since 2002.
Meijer celebrated the company’s 75th year in 2009.
Meijer stores employ about 60,000 employees in 200 stores across Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.
Fred Meijer was a philanthropist, an advocate for civil rights, affirmative action and women’s rights throughout his life.
A public visitation was scheduled for Nov. 29 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Visit the tribute site to learn more about Fred Meijers life.