Outside the metro area, Meijer is a force with 100 of its 197 stores in the state.
Spartan Stores, also based in Grand Rapids, is close behind with 97 stores in Michigan.
“Wal-Mart and Costco have come in to the area, but people are pretty loyal to the local chains,” said Steve Davis, president, S.B. Davis Co., Grand Rapids.
“That helps Meijer and Spartan, not to say the national chains aren’t doing business because they are, but people here are really more concerned about supporting local business.”
Like the Detroit distributors, Heeren Bros. Inc., Grand Rapids, focuses much of its efforts on serving independent retailers, though not exactly the same type of stores.
“We don’t have the big independent food markets like Detroit,” president Jim Heeren said. “We work with small-town stores in places like Houghton Lake that only have one or two stores.”