The photo of Melinda Van Ess, 3, daughter of Terry Decommer and Brandon Van Ess, was one of 28 entries chosen for the TV spot, and one of nine from Michigan, from more than 3,200 submissions in the Star with Sandy photo contest hosted on the Meijer Facebook page.
“Ever since Meijer first opened its doors in 1934, we’ve been a family store—family owned and dedicated to providing families with the best shopping experience possible,” said Nicole Laughlin, vice president of brand development for Meijer. “For decades, a ride on Sandy has been a very important part of the Meijer experience for millions of families. That’s something we’re incredibly proud of.”
For many families, riding Sandy is the highlight of their routine shopping trips and a reward for their children’s good behavior. For some parents, it’s nostalgic. “It was always my family tradition,” said Melinda’s father Brandon. “I always rode it for a penny. So, I showed her. She enjoys it all the time. She always screams, ‘Yahoo!” when she rides it, and it gets everyone’s attention.”
The mechanical pony debuted at the opening of Thrifty Acres in 1962. A supermarket in Nebraska that offered 10-cent pony rides inspired the late Fred Meijer. But, he wanted a more reasonable option. The price of one penny per ride has since become symbolic of what Meijer views as the affordable shopping experience.
“My dad believed in making things affordable for our customers and that included Sandy,” Meijer Co-chairman Hank Meijer said. “Riding Sandy is a memory shared by so many children and parents who shop at our stores. But the real magic happens when those children grow up and bring their own kids back for a ride.”
The 30-second commercial is airing this month on television, and a 60-second version of the commercial can be found online on youtube.com.