The Meijer Touch

A Meijer store in Lansing, Mich., engages animal owners with a large, highly visible pet department stocked with a comprehensive selection that even includes live fish.

In 1934, during the Great Depression, Hendrik Meijer, a barber in Greenville, Mich., decided to purchase $328.76 worth of merchandise on credit to offer to the customers who visited his shop. This would prove to be the foundation for the Meijer grocery chain.

Today, Meijer, located in Grand Rapids, Mich., operates 213 supercenter and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. A family-run business, Meijer is credited as the inventor of the “one-stop-shopping” concept, and the chain is consistently opening new stores and renovating existing properties.

The 190,000-sq.-ft. Meijer store located at 6200 South Pennsylvania Ave. in Lansing, Mich., is one of those properties. Recently, when the company decided that renovating the outdated unit at this location simply would not be enough, they replaced it by building a new one right next door. The new facility is spacious with generous aisles. It is also well lit, well merchandised, clean and inviting. Of course, since the store just re-opened in November, all of the fixtures and display units are new.

The pet department is impressive in scale, comprising five full aisles along with collateral displays, and features a comprehensive selection of products. This might be an indication of the store’s confidence in the vitality of the pet care market or a response to healthy local completion. There are a number of independent pet retailers, as well as a Petco and Pet Supplies Plus, serving the greater Lansing area, which has a population of just over 300,000. In addition, there are bigger chains such as Walmart and Krogers—and even other Meijer stores—in the market.

The store at 6200 South Pennsylvania Ave. features two main entrances, Home and Fresh. The Fresh entrance main aisle extends to the back of the store with 15 perpendicular aisles of food and food-related products. The pet department is located on the other side of the aisle, which is a main artery with heavy traffic.

When shoppers walk in the front doors, they can clearly see the large wall sign identifying the pet department. The 20-ft. sign is located straight ahead and sports the words “Your Pet” and a picture of a happy dog and a smiling child.

Down the Fresh aisle, there are three main aisles running perpendicular that intersect the Home entrance aisle, one of which is just in front of the pet department. This offers the store the opportunity to put up special displays in the middle of the aisle, which splits up traffic and increases customer exposure.

When shoppers approach the pet department, they are greeted by a large bin display full of Purina Dog Chow with eye-catching signage. There are also a couple of park benches set up nearby.

To the left of the first pet aisle, there are five rectangular shelving units that offer dog products, including rope pulls, bones, chew toys, squeaky toys, Durable toy series (ranging from $4.00 to $10.), Malabones, a selection of Kong products, dog shirts and balls/throw toys and bones.

One unit features a small selection of more utilitarian products, such as bowls, harnesses, collars, leashes, lint rollers, Wahl PetPro clipping kits (ranging from $11.99 to $54.99), Shout urine destroyer stain and odor remover, Burt’s Bees dog shampoo and breath drops, and other grooming items. The final display is all about the Meijer private-label brand, including pig ears, peanut butter biscuits, liver biscuits, dried beef strips and other dog chews and treats.

Taken together, these five displays create a special department for all of the pet merchandise that really does not have a place to roost in the regular, categorized aisles. It is spacious, easy to walk around and visually engaging.

At the end of the aisle and running down the back wall of the store are aquarium products, with approximately 40 feet of tanks, fish food and supplies.
In the back of the first official pet aisle, there is a section of dog oral-care treats. The selection has a good representation of products, including Pedigree Dentastix, Milk Bone Brushing Chews and Purina’s Beneful Healthy Smile Treats. Moving forward down the aisle, next in line are organic treats, which feature brands like Nudges Jerky Cuts, Buckley Beef Liver Jerky, Milo’s Kitchen selections, Riley’s Organic Bones, Castor and Pollux Good Buddy Dog Cookies and more.  

The crunchy treat category is next, offering Blue Dog Bakery Doggie Paws, Milk Bones, Beneful Baked Delight Hugs, followed by soft and chewy options, including Beggin’ Strips, Pup-Peroni, and long-lasting treats such as Pedigree Jumbone, Rachael Ray Chicken Drumstick and Greenies. Next is the rawhide section, with products such as Pet Factory Rawhide Chews ranging in price from $4.99 to $9.99 and Dingo products, most of which were marked down by 25 percent.

Meijer seems to be very aggressive in markdowns, with $1-off savings fairly common in the pet department, along with other various discounts (mostly 25 percent off). In addition, the store was running a department-wide promotion that offered $10 off with a $50 purchase of pet items.

Rounding the corner endcap, which is devoted to natural, dry foods such as Purina Beyond, Nutrisca and Iams Super Food Blend, is the dry dog food and premium dry food sections, with a broad selection of brands in multiple sizes. Bags of 31-lb. Kibbles and Bits Originals retailed for $18.95, and a 6.5-lb. bag of Purina Light and Healthy was discounted by $1. Offerings also included Iams Chunks, Purina Smart Blend, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Purina Beyond, and other Purina and Iams products.

The next aisle houses canned dog food with Pedigree, Alpo, Cesar and other popular brands represented. Cesar was priced 10 for $6.70, and Pedigree was marked $.75 cents per can. The aisle progresses to bowls and food storage, flea and tick medication, and collars. There is a good selection of bowls, which ranged in price from $4.99 to $6.99, along with feeding stations.

Across the aisle are pet throws and carpets, as well as the beginning of the cat section, starting with treats. Temptations treats have a large presence, running $3.29 for a 6.3-oz. package. The cat canned food selections include Fancy Feast, Friskies, 9-Lives and Meow Mix, all in various blends. Fancy Feast was priced between $.72 and $.79 each for the 3-oz. size, along with some specials offering 20 cans for $12 and 30 cans for $17. 

The dry food selection includes chicken- and turkey-flavored Purina One, selling at $22.99 for 16 pounds. Other brands include Meow Mix, Kat Kaboddle, IAMS and Purina Beyond.

The next aisle is devoted to cat supplies, consisting of cat pans and liners, as well as clumping and lightweight litters, which comprise mostly of Purina and Meijer branded products. Lightweight Purina Tidy Cats was priced at $11.49, marked down from $12.99 for 8.5 lbs.

In the traditional cat litter selection, Tidy cat was marked at $5.49 for 20 lbs., with the 40-lb. size running $8.49. After a $1 discount, Arm and Hammer Super Scoop cost $6.99.

Turning the corner, shoppers come to traveling gates, collars, harnesses and retractable leashes. Further down the aisle are stain-removing products, training pads and a sizeable selection of pet beds in all shapes, sizes and prices.

Then come products for small animals, birds and fish. This aisle offers bedding and food for rabbits and other small pets, followed by a space devoted to bird feeders, boxes and food. Feeders are available in a number of styles and sizes, with prices ranging from $13 up to $34. Kaytee parakeet food is marked at $5.99 for 21.6 ounces.

The bird food selection is large and features the Meijer brand and Kaytee products. Meijer Black Oil Sunflower Seed was $9.99 for 10 lbs., Kaytee Nature’s Harvest Wild Bird Food was marked at $7.99 for 10 lbs., and Kaytee Wild Bird Peanuts were $12.99 for 5 lbs.

Although there are some products on the main pet department aisle shelves, most of the bird specialty items like suet and hummingbird products are housed either on endcaps or floor displays located a few feet from the endcaps and toward one of the main aisles.

Along the back wall is the fish department, half of which is product, with the remaining space devoted to live fish contained in 12 aquariums. The product area is dominated by Meijer and Tetra products. It comprises mostly peg displays, with the exception of aquariums and equipment, which are on shelves. A Tetra 5-gal. aquarium system was priced at $49.99, with 25 percent off. The Tetra Whisper Power Filter was marked at $32. 

Meijer makes good use of the artery aisle, putting up movable product displays to catch the eye of impulse buyers. Most of the products are smaller bags of dry cat and dog food and treats.


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