- In an interview with MLive, Meijer CEO Rick Keyes indicated the company is already planning to expand its small-format Bridge Street Market store to more cities. “We know we can deliver an outstanding food experience as well as being local to the market,” he said. “As we look at other areas where we might place this, that will be a continued focus.”
- Keyes spoke at the groundbreaking for Bridge Street Market in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. At 37,000-square-feet, the store will be less than one-fifth the size of a typical Meijer store and will be “fresh-led,” according to Keyes, with a focus on produce and prepared foods.
- Despite all the local attention on the new format, Meijer still plans to focus primarily on its large-format stores. “The supercenter will continue to be the engine of our business,” said Keyes.
Considering Meijer has shuttered three smaller-format stores over the past year, it would be understandable if the retailer walked away from the idea entirely.
But the company knows the opportunity for fresh-focused urban grocery stores is too great. And anyway, its Meijer Marketplace stores in Chicago, at roughly 100,000-square-feet, weren’t really “small” stores to begin with. "The difference between [Bridge Street Market] and what we did in Chicago is that was a smaller version of our supercenter," Keyes told MLive.
Now, Meijer has its focus “lasered” in on food, according to Keyes, with a Bridge Street Market concept that’s set to open late next year in downtown Grand Rapids. Instead of 200,000 square feet of toys, apparel, electronics and grocery, Bridge Street will be 37,000 square feet of fresh-focused food offerings. Produce will be a highlight, as will prepared foods. According to Keyes, the company plans to leverage its strength in produce and other grocery categories to stock Bridge Street Market with competitively priced products.
Unlike Target, a close competitor that has struggled with its grocery assortment, Meijer has a strong presence in fresh. Annually, the retailer buys $100 million worth of local produce from Midwest farmers. The company doesn’t have to do a lot of legwork to source the sorts of products that will appeal to affluent urban shoppers.
But running a supercenter and running an urban grocery store are two very different disciplines. Despite its sourcing abilities, Meijer may struggle to find the right mix for city-dwelling shoppers, many of whom desire emerging brands, unique services and a level of authenticity that chain stores often struggle to provide.