The "Shelby Report of the West" April 2022 edition contains a lengthy commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Fred Meyer chain. Bob Reeves conducted interviews; Kevin Atwill compiled them. The article says that in 2022, there are 132 Fred Meyer stores in four states: 11 locations in Alaska, 11 locations in Idaho, 51 in Oregon and 59 in Washington state. The store locations span three time zones. The stores have an average size of 165,000 square feet. Fred Meyer employs more than 36,000 associates. (The supplement includes photos of two employees who have worked for Fred Meyer for at least 50 years.) Based in Portland, Oregon, Fred Meyer is now a division of the Kroger Company. Founder Fred G. Meyer was originally named Fred Grubmeyer, who came to Portland at age 22 in 1908. He began by selling coffee from a horse-drawn cart to workers at farms and lumber camps. He opened the first Fred Meyer at SW 5th Street and Yamhill in Portland. The article says, “According to the company, its locations are not big box stores, hypermarkets or supercenters, nor are they warehouse stores, discounters or department stores. Instead, each is a collection of several specialty stores under one roof.”
Fred Meyer opened one of the first self-service drugstores in the world in 1928. The article states, "His was one of the first stores in the country to open with so many categories under one roof - truly one-stop shopping. Its first suburban mega-store opened in Portland's Hollywood district in 1931." In the late 1950s, dairy and bakery plants opened. The company operated in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana by 1968. Fred Meyer entered the Seattle market in the 1960s by purchasing Marketime Drugs. Fred Meyer opened its first nutrition center in 1971. In 1973, two jewelry catalog showrooms opened. The company entered the Alaskan market in 1975 by acquiring Value-Mart locations. Goods travel to Alaska via barge, sometimes a four day journey. In 1984, Fred Meyer purchased stores from Grand Central in Salt Lake City. In 1997, Fred Meyer purchased stores (?) from Smith’s. In 1997, Fred Meyer also bought Ralph’s of California and QFC of Seattle.
KKR purchased Fred Meyer in 1981 after Mr. Meyer died. Fred Meyer merged with Kroger in October 1998. The article says that Fred Meyer is the top Kroger division in sales.
A photo on page 21 touts the “New Modern Fred Meyer 5th Avenue Store.” Apparently “My-Te-Fine” was a Fred Meyer private label product line (just my guess from the context). Page 22 includes a photo of the “Fred Meyer Hollywood Public Market,” perhaps in the 1930s or ‘40s. A large sign in the photo says, “PARK FREE WHILE SHOPPING.”
An interview with Fred Meyer President Dennis Gibson stresses a “friendly first” approach to business. Mr. Gibson said, “My favorite Fred Meyer quote is, ‘Take care of the customers so well that they will want to return with us again and again.’ ” Mr. Gibson also said that they were experts in sourcing local fruits, vegetables and wild Northwest salmon. Mr. Gibson said that Kroger is very data driven. He said that it takes four days on the water to get product to their Alaska stores. Mr. Gibson said that the produce department is always the lead at Fred Meyer because the company has determined that the produce department is one of the main reasons customers shop there.
An interview with Brad Cope, marketing and communications manager, notes that ads are now done in Cincinnati for all divisions, but Fred Meyer does the proofing and price adjusting.
The tribute to Fred Meyer’s centennial includes advertisements from many Fred Meyer suppliers.
Fred Meyer Chain - 100th Anniversary: 1922-2022 - "Shelby Report of the West" April 2022 Edition
Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
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Re: Fred Meyer Chain - 100th Anniversary: 1922-2022 - "Shelby Report of the West" April 2022 Edition
Yes, My-T-Fine was their private label. I worked for a market research company in St. Louis who did work for Kraft; don't ask me why I remember but we were doing a survey in Portland/Seattle in about 1981 for Velveeta Singles which were in test market there. Also did one elsewhere in the US for Kraft Bacon and Tomato Salad Dressing.
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