Retailers

How Meijer's Woodward Corner Overcame Pandemic Challenges Its First Year

Retailer’s small-format concept found myriad ways to support its community
Woodward Corner Market front
Photograph courtesy of Meijer

Woodward Corner Market, one of three small-format concepts for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, opened Jan. 29, 2020, in the Royal Oak community of metro Detroit—just a few short weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the nation.

“When we opened our doors a year ago, we promised to meet the community’s needs. We just didn’t realize the challenges 2020 would bring at the time,” Woodward Corner Market Store Manager Natalie Rubino said in a release.

Those challenges included making grocery shopping convenient for customers avoiding stores for safety reasons, as well as keeping shelves stocked amid heightened demand for supply.

Woodward acted fast and offered grocery delivery through Shipt for those who didn’t want to shop in-store. Meanwhile, it increased its assortment of locally-made or sourced products by 60% over the past year, adding Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes, Metamora Greens, Riker’s Dog Treats, Mab’s Atomic Mustard and more to its lineup.

Other ways Woodward served the community during this trying time, include:

  • Hosting a food truck at Beaumont Hospital every weekday in April, where hospital employees could receive free drinks and snacks.
  • Launching the Meijer mPerks savings program in April to help customers save. To date, mPerks digital coupons are applied to 30% of the store’s transactions, the retailer said.
  • Establishing a partnership with local restaurants, including Zeoli’s Italian, Bobcat Bonnies and Garden State Chef, in the summer to offer ready-made meals through the Woodward To Go program. The Woodward store also supported the struggling restaurant industry by frequently purchasing meals from local establishments for the store’s team members during their shifts.
  • Launching the Flashfood program in October, which allows customers to purchase food nearing its sell-by date, such as meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products, at up to 50% off on the Flashfood app for pickup in-store.

“I am so incredibly proud of my team for banding together to overcome them to support our community the way we did,” Rubino said. “In the words of Fred Meijer, ‘Our customers don’t need us, we need them,’ and 2020 marked a year where we all needed to work together to weather the storm. These efforts were just a small way to say ‘thank you.’ ”

Woodward Corner Market is focused on bringing customers a mix of fresh, local and convenient food at low prices. It was the first store Meijer opened without using single-use plastic or paper bags at checkout. Meijer’s other small-format concepts include Bridge Street Market, located in its hometown of Grand Rapids.

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