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Meijer, formerly known as Meijer Thrifty Acres*, declares war on Lil' Fella

by: Eric B.

Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:46:01 AM EDT

Tiger Beat on the Potomac has a story that Tuesday's primary elections were only the opening salvo in this year's GOP civil war. It was a big night for the reviled Establishment over the Tea Party nutter fringe, and now the reviled Establishment is comin' gunning for Lil' Fella ... and they've got friends.

Members of the Meijers family, owners of the massive Midwest supermarket chain, are all in behind Brian Ellis, Amash’s Republican primary challenger. As are the political arms of Home Depot, Dow Chemical and the International Franchise Association.

I think Tiger Beat on the Potomac undersells the Meijer angle to this. Meijer isn't just a Midwest supermarket chain, Meijer was the forerunner of your megastores today where you can get pool chlorine, auto batteries, anal lube and cantalopues under one roof. it's also based in the same Grand Rapids area that is the seat of Lil' Fella's district.

it does have to be mentioned that this isn't the first time this week that Meijer has been in political news. Just the other day we noted a story in which an attorney implicated in Meijer's attempt to buy a recall election was facing profesional disciplinary action, which once again begs the point to be raised: What once got Meijer, the chain (not the family, the actual group of people backing Lil' Fella's challenger) into pretty hot water is now, thanks to Citizens United, perfectly legal.

*--it's the family, not the corporation. But, the headline is funnier if it looks like the chain's old little Dutch boy mascot is trying to hound Lil' Fella from office.

Eric B. :: Meijer, formerly known as Meijer Thrifty Acres*, declares war on Lil' Fella
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Meijer was a "hypermarket" long before Wal-Mart came to Michigan
Meijer built a store here in Canton in the 1970s when much of the township was cornfields.

The first Wal-Mart in Michigan opened in Alma in 1990.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

Sam Walton Ripped Off Fred Meijer
The first Thrifty Acres was on 28th Street in Grand Rapids, and the owner of some small town markets/Ben Franklin's in Arkansas heard about the stores.

So being the friendly good ol' boy, Sam Walton called Fred and introduced himself, mentioned that he had just read about Thrifty Acres opening in one of the trade papers, and was thinking about coming up to see it for himself.

And being the helpful Michigander that Fred was, he offered to pick up Sam at the airport and give him a personal tour.

The rest is history.

I'd never heard that story. Thank you for sharing.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Henrik Meijer was an atheist and a socialist.
The reason all Meijer stores were union (and most still are) is that Henrik actually invited them in.  He was open Sundays partly for commercial reasons, but also because he thought religious observance should be each person's choice, and not imposed on them by law or community custom.

Fred, the next generation, was a moderate Democrat.

The current, third, generation thinks it's part of the Grand Rapids Dutch scene, and wants to hobnob with the DeVoses and VanAndels.

Meijer's roots are much weirder than you'd guess.

That's really interesting hearing about Hendrik.  Here is what I was able to dredge up:

Hendrik Meijer was the founder of Meijer, the ubiquitous West Michigan grocery chain that started from a single storefront in Greenville, Michigan to become a multi-million dollar company. The Dutch immigrant Meijer worked long hours and made many sacrifi ces, eventually succeeding in the grocery business. It's the kind of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" story of capitalist success that
Americans love to tell.

However, there's an interesting part of the story that many do not know: Hendrik Meijer was an anarchist who disdained organized religion, hated capitalism, and-at least for a time-participated in the Dutch anarchist movement in the Netherlands and here in West Michigan. It's a story worth sharing because it challenges the dominant narrative that all Dutch immigrants came from conservative religious backgrounds and shows that there were a variety of anarchists active in the West Michigan area.

An Anarchist in the Old World...

Hendrik Meijer was exposed to anarchist and socialist views while living in the Netherlands. His father worked in the newly industrialized economy, often under miserable conditions in the city of Hengelo's mills. Workers were routinely exposed to anarchist views, particularly those of Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis.1 Nieuwenhuis was a former preacher who rejected the Church for socialism and eventually came to anarchism.2 He became an important force in the Dutch anarchist movement, publishing a newspaper called The Free Socialist and working tirelessly to build up the anarchist movement. He explained his conversion from socialism writing:...

It's a good read.

However, I always assumed Fred was the one that took the hard turn to the right.  You're telling me it was with the grandsons that this operation was taken to the right?  

[ Parent ]
Fred was to the right of his dad, but so was everybody.
I think the evidence is that Fred was pretty middle of the road.  He was definitely NOT an anarchist. His kids continued the shift to the right.

It seems to be a general rule that important innovations arise from people who are alienated from their societies, probably because only by being free from its preconceptions could they imagine better ways of doing things.

Thanks for the link - it contains a lot I'd never heard. It sounds as if the rightward drift spanned at least FOUR generations, since Hendrik was probably a terrible disappointment to his dad, for whom running a grocery store would have gotten in the way of demolishing capitalism.

[ Parent ]
I knew he was an atheist, but I didn't know that he was a moderate Dem.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

[ Parent ]
I think you may have blurred two people into one.
Hendrik was the political extremist and atheist.  Fred was moderate, and as far as I know, said nothing about religion in public.

[ Parent ]
When Fred died in 2011,
I did hear from a few people that he was an atheist.

Maybe they were also confusing Hendrik and Frederik?

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

[ Parent ]
You're probably right then.
I don't really know much about them, but I'd guess watching his father trying to maneuver through Grand Rapids society may have taught Fred the value of holding his own cards closer to his chest.  Being actually KNOWN as an atheist can't have been good for business.

But I have no reason to doubt the truth of what you say.

[ Parent ]

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