Hendrick Meijer is the founder of the current Meijer super center retail chain serving five States in the Midwest. The Meijer retail chain has managed to grow in recent years while successfully competing against Walmart and other large national retailers. The Meijer chain currently operates over 200 giant super center stores, each one averaging over 200,000 square feet. The Meijer super center stores carry a product selection consisting of both soft, hard and durable goods as well as a full line of food products, similar to the Walmart super center stores. About half of the Meijer super center stores are located in Michigan while the remainder is in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Hendrick Meijer was born on December 28, 1883 in Hengelo, a city in the eastern part of the Netherlands near the German border. He immigrated to the U.S. with his father and sister in 1907. They settled in eastern Michigan where Hendrick worked in a variety of jobs and eventually operated his own barber job. His fiancée, Gezina, joined him in 1912, the year in which they got married.
In 1934 he opened his first food store with the help of his wife, his son Fred and his daughter Johanna. Their store became successful and in 1942 they opened the second store, followed by four more stores in the 1950s. In the early 1960s Hendrick, with his family's help, had been able to grow the business to 14 stores, all in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan.
Around that time the Meijer family opened their first hypermarket, a super store concept started in Belgium the year before. The first hypermarket in the U.S. was thus started by the Meijer family. The Meijers called their hypermarket a super center store, a name that
still conveys the concept now commonly used by Walmart and other national retail chains.
In 1964, the year Hendrick Meijer died, the Meijer family had three super center stores in operation. Hendrick's son, Frederick, born in 1919, the son who had worked with his father since the first store opened in 1934, took over the reins of the company and under his leadership Meijer became a retailing giant. It is currently the ninth largest privately held company in the U.S. with over 200 super center stores in operation.
Hendrick Meijer died on May 31, 1964 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the age of 80. Hendrick's wife Gezina outlived him by 14 years. She passed away on February 28, 1978 at the advanced age of 91.
Hank Meijer, "Thrifty Years: The Life of Hendrik Meijer", Eerdmans, 1984
"Michigan Today", http://www.umich.edu/o3/Sum03/meijer.ht
Larry Ten Harmsel and Bill Smith, "Fred Meijer: Stories of his Life", Eerdmans, 2009
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