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Fred G. Meyer was born in 1886 into a family of Brooklyn grocers. In 1905, at the age of 19, he traveled west, working his way through the wheat fields of the Dakotas and Montana, and then the gold fields of Alaska.
He came to Portland, Oregon, in 1909. After building a door-to-door coffee business, he established a coffee retail outlet in a downtown street market that he subsequently managed. In the 1920s he invested everything he had in an "all-package" grocery store. At the time of his death five decades later, the Fred Meyer chain employed more than 13,000 people with annual sales exceeding $1 billion. Fred Meyer's wife of 41 years, Eva, was an integral part of this success. She managed several store departments in the early years and became a director and secretary-treasurer of Fred Meyer Inc.
Fred Meyer's life and career exemplified ingenuity, hard work, and a commitment to the communities where he built his stores. He introduced innovative marketing concepts to the Northwest, including the packaging of bulk goods, one-stop shopping, cash-and-carry purchasing, self-service drug stores, suburban stores, and many new products and merchandising methods.
Fred Meyer also supported economic development of the Northwest. He bought local products whenever possible, and he fostered the production of new crops in the region. He helped finance new business ventures as well as some in danger of failing during hard times.