Those red racks in Meijer stores that contain free publications, including City Pulse, will disappear at the end of the month.
That will mean City Pulse, New Citizens Press, Michigan Bulletin, The Chronicle, Wheeler Dealer and Greater Lansing Woman, among others, will no longer be available at Meijer.
A spokeswoman for Dominion Distribution, a national company that contracts with Meijer for space, said Meijer has opted out of its contract, effective March 1. The racks will be removed Feb. 29, she said. Publications pay monthly to be in the racks.
Meijer officials have not commented. Two sources have told City Pulse that the racks are “messy” and a “cost of labor”issue, explaining that Meijer does not want employees picking up discarded publications at the store.
However, all of the directors of the seven stores in the Lansing area say they have “no problem” with free publications, as one of them put it. But directors have no choice in the matter, one of them said about the decision that was reached at the supermarket chain’s headquarters in Grand Rapids.
Stacie Behler, vice president for public affairs, said it was not her decision. She said Monday she was seeking information on why it was made.
Meanwhile, public officials have begun to react to the decision.
State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he intended to make calls “as far up the food chain as he could” to find out why Meijer was ending free publications.
Lansing City Council President Brian Jeffries plans to introduce a resolution this week urging Meijer to reconsider.
Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope wrote a letter to Meijer that said: “Meijer has always represented a strong presence for public service in the community. I feel that this action would negatively impact this image.”
Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing and Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann also said they would write letters.
The city of Lansing and East Lansing place virtually all their public notices in City Pulse, which is on racks in all eight Meijer stores in Greater Lansing. Many county notices as well as notices for independent agencies like the Lansing Housing Commission and the Lansing Board of Water & Light appear in City Pulse as well.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re concerned about Meijer’s decision,” said City Pulse editor/publisher Berl Schwartz. “Meijer has become a very important hub of community information.”
“We think a bit of mess, if there is any, from discarded papers is well worth it in terms of serving the many Meijer customers who pick up City Pulse and other publications there,” he said. “And I’m skeptical that’s the real reason, since all the store directors in our area say they have no problem what soever with free publications.”
Schwartz said some 3,000 copies of City Pulse a week are picked up at Meijer. With pass-along, 6,000 or more readers are affected, he added. He said he knows the numbers are higher for the New Citizens Press and Wheeler Dealer.
Seeing red over Meijer’s decision to ban free publications? Here’s what you can do: E-mail Stacie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’s the VP for public affairs.
Call your store director — or try to. It’s not easy getting through to store directors, who are very busy. If you cannot talk directly to the store director, leave word with the manager in charge:
1. Call the store number (see below).
When you hear the recording, say “Manager in Charge.” You’ll be transferred.
2. Ask for the store director. You’ll be asked if a manager can help you. You can either persist in seeking the store director or you can opt to speak to a store manager.
3. Let them know how you feel about Meijer’s decision to discontinue free publications. The directors all know about it at this point, but the managers may not. Ask them to convey your feelings to the director.
Here are numbers for the Meijer stores:
East Lansing 332-2444
Lansing (South Pennsylvania) 394-7720
Lansing (West Saginaw) 321-1302
Dewitt 669-4600 Okemos 349-6800
Grand Ledge 622-6800