The other day I was looking back at old blogposts searching for the post where I talked about my infamous Meijer Quest, and when I couldn't find it, I realized that I had never told this very quirky and essential Susan story!
Here’s the deal…Mom took me to Meijer (pretty much the coolest grocery store ON THE PLANET!) as a kid (a shout out to store #43 in Saginaw, MI!) and schooled me in the ways of good deals and triple coupons. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the low prices and the convenience of filling my cart with everything from taco shells to toys and toilet seats. I lived away from “Meijerland” for a few years in Las Vegas and was surprised to find out that there were entire time zones that knew nothing about Meijer! Upon my return to the Midwest in 1995, my heart pounded at the sight of Meijer (my turf for 13 years on State Road 37) – I was truly home again.
Now, back in 2000, Beth had a boyfriend in Grand Rapids, MI, that she would often visit for the weekend. Left alone, I was a little jealous of her journey, and because I typically bought my groceries on the weekend, I decided to pair that with a little trip. I made a few trips to Meijer stores in Goshen, IN, and Defiance and Lima, OH, and began to think that it might be fun to visit every single one. Friends were fascinated by my strange obsession, and that led me to make a vow on New Year’s Eve of 2000 – I intended to shop at every Meijer grocery store in the nation. And I did… all 157 of them…in five states…all in one year!
With a plan in mind, my full-blown Meijer adventures began, and as luck would have it, Fort Wayne was centrally located. One Saturday morning I headed for Columbus, OH, with map in hand, and visited fifteen Meijers before returning home that day. Another time I made a pilgrimage with my sister to Grand Rapids, MI, the birthplace of Meijer. My parents went with me, my friends, and even a busload of my 8th graders and their parents joined me in my quest on the way to Washington, DC! Friends and family were amused and incredulous when they heard my stories, but in the end they were all rooting for me. I even had a map that family friend Arlis Hutter scored for me (she worked at the Tittabawassee Rd. store at the time) with all of the locations on it. After each trip, I put a check mark by all of the stores that I had visited that day.
Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky – no Meijer went unvisited, and by Thanksgiving Day of 2001, I had reached the end of my quest. It was sort of sad to see the whole thing come to an end. I loved the travel and the excitement of spotting another Meijer sign on the horizon. But, oh the conversation starter I have now!
The question that I always get is, did you buy something at every store? Why, yes, I did! Sometimes I would just swoop in and buy a can of olives, but I was there. The absolute BEST Meijer is in Troy, OH, at least it was 8 years ago. It was very well-kept and well-stocked. The grossest one was in Adrian, MI. It was QUITE due for a makeover, and I followed the greeter (who had been giving out balloons at the door) out of the bathroom. She had skipped the whole hand-washing routine. Ewwww. The coolest and most interesting store was in Grand Rapids. I think that it was store #12. It was the very first Thrifty Acres, and Hendrik Meijer had built it in a way that if the whole thing flopped, he could sell it to a car dealership. Let's just say yogurt was right across from the shoes. Makes sense, right? The only time I ever stayed overnight on this quest was when Beth and I took a weekend trip to Traverse City (ultimately to visit the Meijer there, but who doesn't love a trip to the Cherry Capital of Michigan?).
No two Meijers are exactly the same which made it all the more interesting. Michigan stores are all equipped with a bottle return and Kentucky stores have the liquor store out front with a separate entrance. It got to the point that I could predict the store number based on the look of the outside.
Now that I am out of Meijerland again, I miss it dearly. I make so many extra trips that would be unnecessary were there a Meijer in the vicinity. Those of you within 5, 15, or 50 miles of a Meijer, please know of my great jealousy!