About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do you recognize this bookstore?

Look familiar?

How about this?

While I imagine many of you have no idea, there are no doubt some careful observers who have guessed that these photos were taken in the book department of my local Meijer store. Now I can just hear some of you thinking, "What gives?" I know, I know. This isn't the kind of establishment I usually blog about; this, you probably think, isn't a real bookstore. But those afflicted with a particularly acute case of book lust will appreciate purveyors of print wherever they find them. For instance, my friend and fellow bookstore enthusiast, Tim, (See All Aboard!) swears by Goodwill as an excellent place to shop for books. So recently when I was shopping at this newly renovated store, I was taken aback when I noticed the new and improved book department, a far cry from the end cap of best sellers and single aisle of paperbacks and magazines that I was accustomed to seeing in Meijer. By my estimation, 800 square feet or so is devoted to this new book area. Its bright, long aisles of books, magazines, audio books, and even book-related materials like reading glasses and book marks are neatly laid out inviting me to browse. So, why not Meijer?

The former school librarian in me enjoys the fact that about half of the area is devoted to titles for children and young adults with four end caps displaying nothing but children's books. A large selection of picture books and some of the most popular YA titles (Hunger Games, Angel Experiment, for example) are available.
Best sellers, bargain books, must reads, and a large selection of periodicals are also displayed and well organized with prominent and easy-to-read signage. For the most part, titles are arranged with the cover facing out making for easy browsing.

Of course there are no charming bookstore owners with which to discuss a favorite author or the latest bestsellers, but I must say that during this visit I was assisted by no fewer than four Meijer staff members, each notably cheerful, friendly, and eager to help.

For those readers not fortunate enough to live in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, or Kentucky, where Meijer stores are located, a little background is in order. From a small grocery store opened by Hendrik Meijer during the Depression, the business has grown and innovated, developing the "superstore" concept well ahead of Walmart.

The success of Meijer Inc. is itself an interesting story. To see a historical timeline of this fascinating company, click here.

Taking up the pioneering mantle from his father, Frederik Meijer oversaw not just the innovation and growth of the Meijer stores, but the creation of the world class Meijer Gardens and Sculpture park as well. What better purchase on this visit than the story of his endeavors, Fred Meijer, Stories of His Life, by Bill Smith and Larry ten Harmsel. By all accounts Fred was a remarkable, inspirational, and endearing man with a knack for remembering people and their names--not just a businessman and philanthropist, but a regular guy. His passing in 2011 was met with an outpouring of affection and admiration. I look forward to learning more about this remarkable man.

It is not surprising that the Meijer innovation would eventually lead to a revamping of the book department. Before shopping for garden tools, electrical supplies, or groceries, customers at my local Meijer store can also browse a store within a store; Meijer books, the non-bookstore bookstore.

Photos used with permission from Meijer Inc.

1 comment:

Jennifer Ganem said...

What a great angle for a story ... and a great store to tell a story about. We always like shopping Meijer and you're right about the book aisles; they really stand apart from other mega-retail stores.