I had the chance to attend the opening celebration for the long-awaited Meijer store in Escanaba on Thursday.
At first glance, it was your typical ribbon-cutting event, with lots of back-slapping and self-praise, local officials in attendance like the mayor, and everybody with mile-wide smiles.
But this ribbon-cutting event was different than many others I have attended. This one was shared by a large chunk of our community, not just “officials”. Hundreds of people poured into Meijer from almost the moment they opened the doors at 7 a.m., a full three hours before us media folks showed up with our cameras and stood next to the apple display.
And when 10:00 came, dozens of staff members (called “team members”) joined everyone from the CEO to the store manager to other people with name tags on who I didn’t meet and probably never will meet.
What was different is that Meijer really does, despite being such a large company, act as if it is a family. The stores are big, yes, very big. But they’re also clean, well-lit, and well-organized. I grew up around Meijer stores in the late 1980’s when I lived in suburban Detroit. My sister worked at the location in Taylor.
There’s a reason why the company has a reputation for great customer service. And that’s the reason why so many Yoopers came to the store yesterday. Some were curious. Some were retirees who lived downstate and shopped at Meijer in the past. Others were just there looking for a bargain. And they found them, too.
Having said all of that, I’d like all of us to remember the people who we have shopped with for years and years and years. I’m talking about Elmer’s County Market. Sav-Mor IGA. Viau’s Market. Flat Rock Grocery. White’s Grocery. North Bluff Grocery. You get the idea. The people who have sponsored our Little League teams, or given a gift card or donated spaghetti to a cancer benefit dinner. Or hired our young people for their first jobs.
There’s nothing wrong with being excited about a new business coming to town, especially one with such a good reputation as Meijer. But also let’s remember the people who have been by our sides for all of these years.
Let’s give them as much support as we can. These businesses have been there for us. Now, they need us.