Battle Creek’s First Meijer Opened November 29, 1960
Attention Meijer Shoppers: Today is the day in 1960 that the first Meijer Store in Battle Creek opened. Do you know where it was located?
Meijer started small, as Dutch immigrant and Greenville Michigan barber Hendrik Meijer decided to try the grocery business. It worked out for him.
By the 1960’s, Meijer had more than two dozen stores around West Michigan, including Battle Creek. On November 29, 1960 the first Meijer Supermarket in Battle Creek opened in the Urbandale Plaza. They advertised free balloons, coupons, door prizes, kiddie rides, chauffeur services, parcel pick-up and even free dolls.
Roger Lewis, who still lives in Battle Creek, was the manager and remembers that one of the features of Meijer Stores was the rides for the kids. Scale model cars, horses and rocket ships were commonplace in grocery stores at that time. “One time Fred Meijer was visiting a store somewhere and the rides cost a dime,” remembers Lewis. “He noticed that parents and some disappointed kids were having a tough time coming up with a spare dime. Well, Fred decided right then and there that rides would be a penny in Meijer stores.”
Kroger Company also opened a market in the same plaza. The Meijer store in Urbandale was doomed almost from the start, not so much because of the Kroger competition. Just two years after opening, Meijer unveiled their new and much larger ���Thrifty Acres” superstores, the first to combine a grocery and department store. They were an instant hit, prompting Meijer to build a newer and bigger store in the mid-70’s on West Columbia, just east of Helmer Road.
Meijer added a new store on Beckley Road in 2001 and totally rebuilt the Columbia Avenue store in 2008. Sometimes it gets confusing trying to identify one Battle Creek store or the other. Is it the new, old Meijer, or the old, new Meijer? Ok, let’s just go with the Columbia Meijer or the Beckley Meijer. That clears it up.
In 1981, the Urbandale Plaza got a shot in the arm when Felpausch announced they would move into the vacant space that one was occupied by Meijer. Felpausch later expanded the building twice, and eventually sold to Family Fare. Urbandale Plaza looks very different these days, but still features a grocery store where the Meijer opened 59 years ago, November 29th, 1960.
Here are the businesses located in Urbandale Plaza in 1960:
- Meijer Supermarket
- Security National Bank
- Muir Drug
- W.T. Grant
- Merit Shoe Company
- Women’s ready-to-wear shop
- Dry cleaner