stores may look and feel similar to some of their big box competitors, but the Grand Rapids-based retailer is proving its commitment to our state’s economic growth with a MSU partnership to showcase Michigan-made products.
The Michigan State University Product Center for Food, Ag and Bio
and Meijer launched a “Made in Michigan” initiative on January 29. Thirty-five Meijer stores will carry nearly 50 new items made by 22 small businesses in Michigan. In the Lansing area, the Saginaw Highway, Grand Ledge and Lake Lansing Road locations will participate in the program.
“It really all began with a cup of coffee with the president of Meijer,” says Matt Birbeck, MSU Product Center project manager. “We had a conversion about how a big company like Meijer starts to get more smaller vendors. I said the MSU product center was ideally suited to manage a program like that.”
Breaking into a large retailer can be particular challenging for small businesses, and major stores such as Meijer don’t have the capability of working with vendors one-on-one. Because the Product Center routinely works with many new and existing small-scale businesses, they already had a catalog of products to recommend.
“Twice a year Meijer will come to us and say we want to revolve the showcase,” says Birbeck. “It will allow small scale companies to be introduced to large communities.”
Among the 22 new Michigan vendors are the Owosso-based Mandingo Pickles, and Herkners Foods of Okemos. The initiative is expected to have a $400,000 economic impact statewide.