Boardman Meijer Nears Opening, Highlights Community Support

BOARDMAN, Ohio – An enlarged photo of Lena Meijer working a cash register sits above a group of workers filing out for the day. She was the wife of Fred Meijer, the son of the founder of the Meijer grocery store chain.

“Thank you” is written on the black and white photo, serving as a constant reminder of the store’s roots and its connection to the community, according to Boardman Meijer store director Dessie Szklany.

Szklany gave the media a tour of Boardman’s newest department-slash-grocery store on Tuesday. Meijer will open to the public on Thursday. Employees were scattered around the store during the tour, stocking shelves and coolers with products.

“To see all of this come to life when we walked in the door eight weeks ago and seeing what it is today, it’s awesome. It’s also very humbling,” Szklany said. “I could not be more proud of this team. This team has really worked hard.”

During the tour, Szklany touched on a couple of services the company provides, including the store’s self-checkout Shop and Scan, rewards program mPerks, curbside pickup and grocery delivery. Szkalny said the goal is to provide as many services as possible to accommodate the needs of its shoppers. 

Store manager Dessie Szklany points to a picture of Lena Meijer working at a cash register.

“Every customer wants a different kind of checkout, so it isn’t the same everywhere you go,” she said. “Some want the manned lanes, some want the self checkout, some want Shop and Scan, some delivery, some pickup.”

One of Meijer’s services aims to help the disadvantaged. If customers purchase a Simply Give gift card, money will be allocated toward food pantries in the area, beginning with God’s Warehouse in Poland. The Simply Give program has raised over $3 million since 2009. 

“We want to make sure that the food pantries that we pick are local and they’re ones that our customers are feeling connected to in some way,” Szklany said.  

The Boardman Meijer has 320 employees. Szklany said she is still looking for more employees across multiple areas and hopes to fill those needs over time. Meijer Stores Ltd., which operates over 250 stores in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, has opened seven locations in northeastern Ohio since 2020.

In June 2019, the company bought nearly 39 acres of land at the corner of Lockwood Boulevard and U.S. Route 224. But the project didn’t come without a couple headaches.

Meijer tries to incorporate gas stations near its locations. The company tried to convert space on Lockwood Boulevard into commercial land, but residents fought against the zoning change and Boardman Township Trustees denied Meijer’s request.

However, Meijer closed on a parcel about a mile east on U.S. Route 224.

“I think it’s all about that relationship,” Szkalny said. “As you’re going to see, it looks ‘big box.’ We think small. For us, I think, it’s about having that relationship with the community. How can we be better neighbors?”

Szklany emphasized the importance of working with the community on multiple occasions. And so as the employees file out after a day of work, they will walk past the giant photo of Lena Meijer – a reminder of the company’s roots and hard work.

“[The workers] want to show it off,” Szklany said. “They’re excited to get the customers in here to see the work that they’ve all been doing.”

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.