Phone of the Day: Avaya 9620 IP Telephone Meijer Knapps Corner Grand Rapids, MI

Spotted this past week at a beautifully renovated Meijer on the NE side of Grand Rapids, is a highly advanced IP Telephone set in an unexpected area of the store, the pizza counter and deli counter.

Meijer is THE leader in Supercenters in the United States, if not the world.  Meijer was created in 1934 by a barber turned grocer in Greenville, MI, about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids, MI.  Meijer was originally a small town grocery store that hit it big when son of the Founder Hendrik Meijer, Fred Meijer decided to make a big splash in Grand Rapids by combining a grocery store with a discount department store.  This was in 1962, the same year K Mart, and Wal Mart were founded.  Unlike most K-Marts (they only had a few K Foods locations) and Wal-Mart, Fred Meijer took a bold risk and decided to create what was later coined a Hypermart or Supercenter, long before they became common in the USA.  Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, Meijer quietly expanded in their home state of Michigan….all with the latest in technological advances in their early 1980s stores, from NCR Scanning/POS to early ATT Definity System 75 PBXs used for paging, intercom, outside calls….long before other retailers even thought of combining their phone system with the intercom.

As Meijer expanded they exploded in popularity and put Wal Mart to shame in most all markets they have opened in.

Fast Forward to the 1990s, Meijer had a new presence in Ohio….and in 1994 expanded into Indiana, and the Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend Market with dramatically redesigned Supercenters with bright lighting, bold graphics, awesome merchandise displays, and yes, a great ROLM 9200 PBX telephone system in all these stores.  While I attended Purdue, I can remember the days my friends at the Meijer in Lafayette, IN in the late 1990s would let me page other co workers over the PA system from a white ROLM 9225 Digital Telephone with KEM at the Service Desk.  I’ll never forget how awesome my voice sounded over 200,000 square feet of retail space, especially when I hung the phone up over the speakers! lol.

Then sometime in the late 1990s Meijer went back to using the ATT/Lucent Definity product, I don’t know the logic, but it could have been the fact that ROLM combined with Siemens around the same time and Meijer wanted to go back to a mainstream American product.  Around 1997, the Lucent 8400 sets appeared back in the Meijer Stores.

Then in the early 2000s, Meijer upgraded to the 6400 digital sets, then the 2400 sets, then the 4600 IP Sets to finally the 9600 IP sets.

Today’s phone was found on the pizza counter and another 9620 was found over at the deli counter register.  It’s awesome to see Meijer tapping into the IP world and installing more “smart” phones throughout other locations in the store other than the Service Desk and Pharmacy.  I would assume the telecom engineers wanted to tap into the already existing LAN connection on the registers and simply hook up a phone that way, instead of running hard line copper to the desk as well.  The only thing I would have different at this store is split up the POS components so that the cash drawer and CPU are below the counter and only the keyboard and printer are on the counter….that would free up so much more space.

Meijer is still full of standard Ma Bell black wall phones throughout the stores…..would be awesome if they upgraded these all to IP Phones one day.

Also noted at this renovated store, Meijer eliminated the use of standard round boring ceiling speakers mounted to the bottom of the roof trusses, and instead upgraded to sound tube high end speakers.  The paging sounded great on these speakers, but the music was disappointingly low for how awesome the speakers are.

If you are ever in the Knapps Corner area of Grand Rapids, this store is a must see.  It’s beautiful inside with a fresh brick oven pizza station, fresh salad bar, awesome graphics, beautiful interior, and a cozy Starbucks next to a Sushi bar.