GREENFIELD — It was an old-fashioned, down-home store opening with the high school band playing "Sweet Caroline" and shoppers with their carts gathered around and singing along amid the oranges and lemons of the produce department.
It was Tuesday and the first day of business for the giant 192,000-square-foot Meijer supercenter at 60th Street and Layton Avenue. Meijer offers both groceries and general merchandise plus a garden center, gas station, walk-in clinic, Starbucks and Great Clips.
A mural with prints of historic photographs going back to 1934 and showing the first Meijer opening in 1949 in Grand Rapids, Michigan is on the wall at the checkout.
When "Sweet Caroline" ended, there was a whoop and applause and shoppers started to filter off into the store.
"It seems very nice," said West Allis resident Carolyn Luedtke. "The prices seem very good." She predicted she would come back to shop every couple of weeks.
Darlene Banaszynski, also of West Allis, had been waiting for the store to open.
"I go by here four or five times a week. We've been watching for this for two years," she said. Now that she gets to check the place out, she said, "I like the variety of they have." She plans to come back every week.
This will be good for Greenfield and the whole area, Banaszynski said. "There's no Meijer close in the West Allis area."
Store manager Jennifer Hill said the Greenfield Meijer is different than others.
"The biggest difference is the expanded pet department. We are 200 percent larger than other ones," Hill said. The Greenfield store is a pilot for expanded pet departments.
Mayor Michael Neitzke said, "I think this is great for the community and I think they will be very successful."
The store manager presented $25,000 to Greenfield High School to improve its baseball field. Hill also presented $7,500 to the city of Greenfield's parks and recreation department.
Shortly after noon, Meijer treated neighbors, Greenfield police and firefighters and other city employees to lunch at the nearby Greenfield Public Library to show appreciation for their service to the community.
As part of its ongoing community support, Meijer donates more than 6 percent of its net profit to charitable organizations annually, and each store works with local food pantries and banks to help fight hunger at the local level.
A grand opening will be held Thursday, May 4, featuring a variety of events. The first 200 customers to enter the store after 6 a.m. on May 4 will receive a Meijer mystery gift card with a value of $5, $10 or $20.
The Greenfield Meijer Supercenter, 5800 W. Layton Ave., the seventh in Wisconsin, is open 24-hours.