GRAND RAPIDS — At the opening today of Bridge Street Market, Meijer Inc.’s first foray in decades into smaller, neighborhood grocery stores, company executives say they’re “bullish” on the format and plan more similar stores, including in Michigan.
Just a few hours after cutting the ribbon on Bridge Street Market, the Walker-based supercenter retailer announced it planned to launch a similar neighborhood store in Lansing. Dubbed Capital City Market, the store will anchor a new mixed-use project planned by Gillespie Group, a Lansing-based real estate firm. The project is set be built on about 4 acres in the 600 block of East Michigan Avenue at the southeastern corner with Larch Street, according to a statement.
The proposed Lansing store comes in addition to a store in Detroit announced last October.
Following Wednesday’s ceremonial ribbon cutting for the 37,000-square-foot Bridge Street Market store at the northwest corner of Bridge Street and Seward Avenue, Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes told MiBiz the company views the format as a scalable and natural step that aligns with changing demographics.
“I think it’s a recognition of what we’re seeing across the Midwest, which is customers moving downtown into urban environments,” Keyes said. “The challenge we have with our supercenters, it’s very difficult to bring that large store into an urban environment, so evolving with the customer and making sure they have access to all the great fresh products we sell, we think it’s a great market for us.”
While the Bridge Street Market store comes as a marked departure from the big box supercenter stores Meijer is credited with inventing, co-chair Hank Meijer notes it’s not an entirely unfamiliar format for the family-owned company.
Speaking during the ribbon cutting, Meijer noted the company’s beginnings stem from his father and grandfather’s original store in Greenville, called the Northside Grocery, which he said makes for a “sense of attachment to an idea of local.”
Bridge Street Market Store Manager Ken Bair shared that of the store’s approximately 60 employees, roughly 25 people live in the west side neighborhood and walk or bike to work.
Despite the moves to smaller format stores, the company has no apparent plans to move away from the supercenter format. Meijer opened a new 155,000-square-foot store earlier this summer in Jamestown Charter Township Ottawa County, and continues to pursue new projects in Ohio and Wisconsin.
While the company’s focus may continue to be on superstores, Keyes believes the new markets present opportunities for expanding the Bridge Street Market concept.
“We’re very bullish on (the concept),” Keyes said. “We’re excited. We think we’ve got a great grocery store we can put in an urban downtown market with great prices and great value. We’ll stay true to who we are and we think customers are going to enjoy it. If you think about our six-state footprint, there’s a lot of communities where we think this could work.”