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Fred Meyer, Inc., is a chain of superstores founded in 1922 in Portland, Oregon, by Fred G. Meyer (not to be confused with Frederik Gerhard Hendrik Meijer, former chairman of the Meijer superstore chain, which is based in Michigan, with stores in the Midwest). The company was one of the pioneers of one-stop shopping, eventually combining a complete grocery supermarket with a drugstore, clothing store, shoe store, fine jewelers, home decor store, home improvement center, garden center, electronics store, toy store, sporting goods store, and more under one roof.
Fred Meyer stores are located in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. Before the company's merger with Kroger in October 1998, it traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol FMY. Although the company is now an entity of Kroger, the stores are still branded Fred Meyer, and the western region of The Kroger Company is headquartered in Portland.
Fred Meyer is sometimes known as "Freddy's", a nickname the company was given by its customers and which is used in its advertising. For a number of years, the company has used the marketing slogan What's on your list today? You'll find it at Fred Meyer! or, more simply, What's on your list today? in its advertising.
- 1 History
- 2 Store design
- 3 Alternate store formats
- 4 Private label brands
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Rewards program
- 7 Plastic bag ban
- 8 Reference in popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Fred G. Meyer, originally of Brooklyn, New York, opened his first stand on the corner of a busy highway in Brooklyn selling cherries. Meyer said he originally started his cherry selling business, because he "needed the extra cash to buy a car." Meyer eventually expanded his store to selling items for cleaning, as well as cereal, until he eventually opened his first permanent location in Portland, Oregon.
The first suburban one-stop shopping center opened in 1931 in the Hollywood District of Portland, a neighborhood he deliberately chose through a shrewd and prescient application of market research: he would pay customers' overtime parking tickets that they incurred while shopping at his downtown store, just to obtain their home addresses. The store's innovations included a grocery store alongside a drugstore plus home products, off-street parking, gas station, and — eventually — clothing. Fred G. Meyer would base store locations on planned highway construction.
In 1951, the Fred Meyer Company built a large warehouse near Providence Portland Medical Center in Laurelhurst, despite complaints and controversy from neighbors and the city council. Neighbors didn't want large truck volume in their city, but the area was already zoned for industrial and commercial east of 44th Avenue. The huge warehouse was built to the detriment of the Banfield Expressway, built in Sullivan's Gulch less than five years later. The warehouse had to be condemned and partially destroyed for the freeway, with the state highway commission selling the remaining sections to the Bemis Company. The Fred Meyer Company moved to Swan Island on land formerly occupied by wartime housing for Kaiser Shipyards.
In the 1960s, Fred Meyer entered the Seattle market by acquiring Seattle-based Marketime Drugs. Fred Meyer also acquired a Spokane-based grocery wholesaler, The Roundup Company. Roundup owned no stores in Spokane but owned Kalispell, Montana-based B&B stores in northwest Montana and Consumer Warehouse Foods in Soap Lake, Washington.
By March 1968, Fred Meyer Inc. was operating in four states — Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana — and had 48 retail stores. Later in 1968, the first full-fledged Fred Meyer in the Seattle area opened, in Lynnwood, Washington. It was the largest Fred Meyer for about a decade.
Valu-Mart acquisition, death of Fred Meyer
In 1973, Fred Meyer acquired all five Oregon stores of the Valu-Mart discount chain (formerly known as Villa-Mart in Oregon) from its parent company, Seattle-based Weisfield's, Inc. The following year, Weisfield's leased its remaining stores (renamed "Leslie's"), in 1975  According to an article published in the business section of The Seattle Times on August 10, 1975, Fred Meyer signed long-term leases with most of the 21 Weisfield's-owned stores (Tacoma and Everett locations were not acquired). Some of the properties may have been purchased by Fred Meyer at the time in the Oregon market but Weisfield's maintained existing leases on properties in the Seattle/Tacoma market since leases for the grocery sections (leased to Associated Grocers in 1973) and other smaller businesses within the stores were kept. Kroger acquired these properties from Weisfield's during the 1990s and 2000s. Some of these properties such as the Greenwood and Midway locations were demolished to rebuild the locations. In 1975, Fred Meyer opened its first stores in Alaska as a result of acquiring Leslie's/Valu-Mart, and changed the Leslie's/Valu-Mart stores to the Fred Meyer banner. As Fred Meyer became better known in the Seattle area, the Marketime Drug chain became known as Fred Meyer-Marketime. While Fred Meyer was building new stores in Washington state some smaller discount stores in the state would lease a portion of their stores to Fred Meyer as well such as The Hi-Ho Shopping Center in Puyallup and the Yard Birds Shopping Center in Centralia.
In 1977, Marketime was renamed Fred Meyer. In the mid-1980s, the Northwest Montana B&B stores also acquired the Fred Meyer name.
On September 2, 1978, Fred G. Meyer died at the age of 92. Until his death, Mr. Meyer had continued to play an active role in the day-to-day operation of his company. Also in 1978, Fortune placed Fred Meyer as the 45th largest retail company by sales. The chain had over $1 billion in sales in 1979.
California expansion and retreat
In the 1990s Fred Meyer expanded into California by opening a store in Chico. Plans had been made to open a store in Redding and expand into Sacramento with several sites having been acquired. Eventually the Chico location was closed and sold and the Sacramento sites sold; the Redding site eventually became a Wal-Mart store in 1996.
Acquisitions of Grand Central and Smith's
In 1984, Fred Meyer acquired Grand Central of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Grand Central stores in Utah and Idaho were converted to Fred Meyer stores, although most did not receive full supermarket departments until the mid-1990s.
In 1997, Fred Meyer Inc. acquired Smith's Food and Drug of Salt Lake City, though both companies maintained separate operations. In 1998, Fred Meyer acquired Ralphs Grocery Company of Los Angeles, California, and QFC of Seattle. Both acquisitions also maintained separate operations with Fred Meyer, Inc. as the holding company. In that fast string of mergers, Fred Meyer quickly became the nation's fifth largest food and drug store operator.
In 1997, Fred Meyer converted its Columbia Falls and Kalispell stores into Smith's Food & Drug Stores, and closed its Polson location. In 2001, the Kalispell store was demolished and replaced with a newer Smiths location adjacent to the older, obsolete store. The Columbia Falls store retained the Fred Meyer decor (with Smith's logos over the old Fred Meyer logos) but only contained a grocery department, with none of the other departments or product offerings.
Merger with Kroger
In May 1999 Fred Meyer, Inc. merged with Kroger of Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2000, the Arizona Fred Meyer stores, all of which were formerly Smith's stores that Fred Meyer acquired in the Smith's merger, were re-branded as Fry's Marketplace.
In 2004, Smith's Food and Drug assumed the operations of the Utah Fred Meyer stores, which were re-branded as Smith's Marketplace. Also, since the acquisition of the Fred Meyer Company, Kroger has been unifying standards across the company, adopting many of the Fred Meyer store standards, and implementing their own standards to the Fred Meyer stores. Kroger and Fred Meyer stores are slowly becoming more similar in management and merchandising.
Additionally, one Fred Meyer in Seattle in the Capitol Hill neighborhood merged its operations with QFC which had a grocery store across the street from the Broadway Market. This particular Fred Meyer, probably the smallest one in the chain, had only drugs and general merchandise, but no food or apparel. This store is now a QFC Marketplace, the only one of its kind, but it is not signed as such.
A typical Fred Meyer store has the following departments:
- Food: groceries, meat and seafood, deli, produce, bakery, health and beauty, natural foods, and pet care;
- Apparel: clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics;
- Home: housewares and home decor, bed and bath, home improvement and garden, furniture, sporting goods, automotive, toys, and seasonal merchandise;
- Electronics: televisions, computers and software, video games, cameras, music and videos;
- Customer service: customer information desk with merchandise exchange, Fax and Western Union, money orders, game licenses, and tobacco sales.
Many stores include several other amenities, such as a prescription pharmacy, Fred Meyer Jewelers, Playland (day care area), franchised coffee kiosk, and Fred Meyer Fuel Stop. Additionally, many location lease internal or adjoining retail space to complementary businesses, such as Chase bank or Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, locksmith or shoe repair, or a full coffee shop.
Alternate store formats
Not all Fred Meyer stores conform to the conventional hypermarket format. While still department-style stores, Fred Meyer has two additional formats used in smaller legacy locations.
Fred Meyer Marketplace
Fred Meyer Marketplace is a comparatively compact Fred Meyer, centered on a full service grocery section, with many of the other departments missing or considerably smaller than a full size Fred Meyer store. These are usually older buildings in more central locations in Portland, with limited, often unique parking arrangements (such as the Northwest Portland and Burlingame location's multistory parking garage). Most Marketplace stores in the Seattle area were once standard supermarkets that have been acquired from other grocers. On the other hand, the location in Palmer, Alaska was constructed new as a Marketplace store, as it sits on a relatively smaller site sandwiched in between the right-of-way of the Glenn Highway and the section line marking the western limits of Palmer's "old town".
Some marketplace locations are early examples of Fred Meyer in its typical mall format, being the anchor store in a small Fred Meyer shopping center. Locations from this early era are typified by having the lawn and garden department in a different building immediately across the street or parking lot.
Fred Meyer Northwest Best
Fred Meyer Northwest Best was the company's "new concept" store in upscale Northwest Portland near Providence Park (formerly Jeld-Wen Field, née PGE Park). It was converted from the Fred Meyer Stadium Marketplace in 2004 to compete against newly arrived retailers such as the Pearl District Whole Foods Market and Northwest Portland Trader Joe's. Fred Meyer had additional signed Northwest Best stores in Gig Harbor, Washington and Redmond, Washington. All stores have since dropped this label and Stadium underwent an extensive remodel from 2014-2015. Gig Harbor is signed with the Fred Meyer Marketplace branding and Redmond has traditional Fred Meyer branding.
FM Red Tag Outlet
FM Red Tag Outlet was a clearance outlet opened by Fred Meyer in 2009 adjacent to their 82nd & S.E. Foster store in southeast Portland. Formerly the Home & Garden department of the 82nd & Foster store, the main store building was thoroughly refurbished earlier in 2009 and afterwards became a Fred Meyer Marketplace store, with the Home & Garden department brought back to the main building. The FM Red Tag Outlet offers clearance items from the regular Fred Meyer stores at discount and the product mix changes frequently. The outlet items are sold as-is with no return option; however customers who are members of Fred Meyer Rewards can earn points at the outlet and can redeem Rewards reward coupons. Originally the outlet was only open Thursdays-Sundays but later was open seven days a week. This location has since closed, however, the main 82nd & S.E. Foster store remains open.
Private label brands
Fred Meyer employs Kroger's manufacturing by adding its own private label brands alongside national brand products. Aside from products labeled Kroger or Fred Meyer, one might also find the following brands at a Fred Meyer store: Kivu Coffee (locally roasted in Portland, OR & Seattle, WA), Country Oven, Everyday Living (and the more upscale eL²), F•M•V ("For Maximum Value") is now Kroger value, Moto Tech, Private Selection, HD Designs, Michael Morgan, Great Northwest, GNW, Curfew, Kidz Korner, Splash Spa, and Naturally Preferred. Former brands associated with Fred Meyer were My-Te-Fine, President's Choice, Fred Bear, F. G. Meyer First Choice, Personal Choice, and Perfect Choice.
The store is managed by a store director (an assistant director if they are a management training store). Each department is run by a manager, an assistant manager, and often a third or a fourth manager, depending upon the size of the department. In addition to the management staff, persons-in-charge (PIC) are non-management supervisors who assume management duties and responsibilities for the duration of a shift, but are otherwise level with co-workers. In the major divisions Sectionheads or Department managers are responsible for a given section of the department.
A single Fred Meyer store employs from 50 to 300 employees at any given time. Employee benefits vary, depending upon an individual's position, the number of hours per month/week worked, and whether or not that store/department of a store belongs to a union. All employees receive Employee Rewards cards that double as Employee Discount cards. Discounts are from 0% to 20% depending on which department the goods are purchased from. Additionally, employees receive a 10% discount on private label grocery department items. A typical Fred Meyer store is always hiring, depending upon promotions or employee turnover. Many job opportunities become available when business increases, or the addition of new departments or fuel stations. There is also hiring for temporary positions in garden centers in the Spring, and during winter holidays. Recently, the Fred Meyer store chain switched to an online employment system, powered by Unicru, located at fredmeyer.com.
On May 4, 2004, Fred Meyer introduced Fred Meyer Rewards, a program that rewards customers for shopping in their stores. To participate, a customer completes a registration form and receives 3 purple cards (a credit card-sized card and two keytags). When the program was introduced, participating customers received one point for every $5 they spent in a single transaction (transactions totaling under $5 did not receive a point). If a customer earned 100 points (spending at least $500) during a 13-week rewards cycle, they would receive about $5 in rebate vouchers. The rewards mailer also typically included percentage discount coupons on specific items.
On April 29, 2007, the company revised the program somewhat, simultaneously with the launch of their Fred Meyer Rewards MasterCard. Effective on that date (which was the beginning of a 13-week cycle), customers receive a point for each dollar spent, but the value of each point decreased proportionally, and a customer must earn 500 points in a 13-week rewards cycle to receive a rebate voucher. Customers who use the MasterCard version of Rewards earn double points at Fred Meyer (2 points per dollar spent), and single points everywhere else where MasterCard is accepted (1 point per dollar spent).
In 2011, the company switched from MasterCard to Visa, which uses the same points format as the MasterCard program. In addition to reward points, Visa rewards card holders receive 15 cents off fuel per 100 fuel points.
Plastic bag ban
In July 2010 Fred Meyer announced that, effective August 1, it would no longer offer plastic bags at any of its 10 Portland stores, due to their perceived negative environmental impacts. Until the City of Portland banned the use of plastic bags in grocery and certain big box stores in October 2011, Fred Meyer was the largest retail chain in the Portland metropolitan area to adopt such a policy. A spokesman indicated that an increasing number of the chain's customers have been choosing to use reusable bags, noting that Fred Meyer's own sales of such bags at its check stands had increased 30 percent from 2008 to 2009.
Reference in popular culture
Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys talks about "dumb rich kids" screeching to a halt in the parking lot of a department store, possibly a Fred Meyer department store, in the talking song "Night of The Living Rednecks".
Glen Phillips, lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket wrote the song, "Fred Meyers," a post-apocalyptic dystopian romance ballad, after visiting a Fred Meyer store in Portland, Oregon. It is on his first solo album, "Abulum."
- Gunderson, Laura (December 15, 2012). "New Fred Meyer president rose up ranks from clerk". The Oregonian. p. C3. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915-1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5.
- "Fred Meyer Sales Climb". The Oregonian, March 24, 1968; section 3, p. 11.
- "Five Valu-Mart stores sold to Fred Meyer by Weisfield's". (May 15, 1973). The Oregonian, p. 15.
- Seattle Times, May 14, 1973
- "Pay Less gets store". (September 18, 1975). The Oregonian, p. D7.
- Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Company History. Funding Universe. Retrieved December 10. 2014.
- MacKenzie, Bill (April 24, 1988). "Retired Fred Meyer chairman [Oran B. Robertson] recounts career". The Sunday Oregonian. p. E1.
- Nokes, Gregory R. (May 1, 1988). "Store chain's founder started with little capital, no formal education". The Sunday Oregonian. p. L1.
- Classen, Allan. "High expectations meet Stadium Fred Meyer remodel". The Northwest Examimer. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Official site
- "Fred Meyer Rolls Out New Rewards Card"; allbusiness.com; May 5, 2004
- Fred Meyer Rewards at fredmeyeralaska.com
- "Portland adopts ban on plastic bags that takes effect Oct. 15". The Oregonian. July 21, 2011.
- Gunderson, Laura (July 21, 2010). "Fred Meyer drops plastic bags at Portland stores". The Oregonian. p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
Media related to Fred Meyer at Wikimedia Commons