Dank u wel, Meijer
|By BERL SCHWARTZ|
I come from a retail family. My Dad built a small chain of drugstores in our hometown of Toledo.
So, I have a lot of respect for Meijer, which is one of Michigan’s great success stories. I know what hard work by our family went into creating just four drugstores. The Meijer family is at 199 stores in five states.
And I know something about how they did it, because successful retailers have this in common: They listen to their customers. That’s what my Dad did. That’s what Meijer does.
Meijer has been proving that in the flap over its decision to discontinue free publications. As a result, Meijer has decided to delay removing its racks in the Lansing market until March 15, instead of March 1.
Meijer has been hearing from City Pulse readers through an online petition, emails, phone calls and personal conversations with Meijer store managers.
Meanwhile, Meijer also reached out to me, albeit with only a temporary solution. But, after some confusion, it’s clear to me now that Meijer is truly interested in a long-range solution that meets the needs of customers who pick up more than 3,000 City Pulses a week in the eight stores in the Greater Lansing area.
As a result, the Feb. 22 issue was not the last one that is available in Meijer stores, as I wrote in that issue and as a flier in the same issue said as well. When we published the paper last week, that appeared to be the case, based on conversations with Meijer executives. But the day after the paper came out, Meijer informed the distribution company that owns the racks on which City Pulse appears to hold off picking them up for two more weeks here in Lansing, albeit not chainwide.
I hope that bodes well for a local solution, since store directors say they have no problem with free publications — which is apparently not the case elsewhere.
I understand Meijer’s decision was based on the appearance of those racks in all its stores. And I understand those red racks (on which we and other publications pay to be displayed) are not perfect, even here. For one thing, there are too many shelves on them for the number of publications left in this market. And understandably Meijer does not like its customers to be greeted by empty shelves. My Dad sure wouldn’t have wanted his customers to see empty shelves when they entered one of his drugstores. It’s depressing.
These problems can all be solved — maybe not perfectly to everyone’s satisfaction, but enough that Meijer, the publications and, more important, the customers that we all share, are satisfied. Those customers are not going to quit shopping at Meijer over this. Hell, I’m probably not even going to quit shopping at Meijer over this! But they and I are going to feel warmer and fuzzier about Meijer if free publications at Meijer continue.
The comments attached to the online petition at www.lansingcitypulse.com are overwhelmingly in that spirit. For the most part people just want the convenience of one-stop shopping, and being able to pick up City Pulse and other free publications at Meijer makes it possible.
Meijer has every right to pull out those racks. I’m delighted that Meijer is apparently reconsidering. Those red racks have made Meijer an important hub of community information by being highly visible and accessible. Long may it continue!
City Pulse goes Hollywood
Well, maybe not Hollywood. But we’re starting a TV show on Lansing’s public access cable channel, which is based in the city’s new media center at 2500 S. Washington St. So, really, we’re going South Lansing.
“City Pulse Newsmakers” will launch on Sunday, March 25, at 11 a.m. (repeating at 11:30 a.m.). Each week, my colleagues — Kyle Melinn and Andy Balaskovitz among them — and I will interview people from all walks of activity in Greater Lansing. Mostly, the Sunday morning show will be about politics and public affairs, but if you listen to our weekly radio show, you know we don’t limit ourselves. It will be lively and fun.
Down the road, City Pulse intends to launch an arts & entertainment show on the same public access TV channel, by the way.
Stay tuned for more details on both shows. Meanwhile, you can hear “City Pulse on the Air” weekly at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on 88.9 FM The Impact or go to www.lansingcitypulse.com for the podcast (which is often online before the show has aired).