Before the information age, Michigan had the 'outdoor age.' That's the era when kids were to remain outside until the lights came on, or Grace Jones asked your parents if they knew where you were. Growing up in Michigan in the 70s and 80s, kids jumped at the chance to go anywhere that meant they'd be INSIDE, including trips with their parents to Meijer. At least, we rode in the car with them to Meijer; after that, it was time to explore our four favorite stops in the Michigan mega-store.

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Before we discuss the mid-80s ways to stay busy as a Michigan kid in Meijer, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the grocery chain's original kid entertainment zone, the Meijer Oasis.


Anyone in Meijer in 1970s? They used to have children play area called Oasis
byu/tomytronics innostalgia

Parents would drop their children off in the middle of the store, unsupervised, and shop while the kids played on sturdy playground animals. This practice lasted until the early 1980s, right around the time Adam Walsh disappeared. Those two events are tied in my mind but may have nothing to do with one another.

After that, kids in Michigan were left to find different ways to entertain themselves without getting in trouble or spending money. With that in mind, here are the 4 ways most kids stayed busy while their parents shopped at Meijer.

How Kids Stayed Busy While Their Parents Shopped at Meijer in the 1980s

In the 1980s, we didn't have phones with thousands of games, songs, and videos, so sitting in the car and waiting for the parental units to emerge from their looooooonnnnnggggg Meijer trip, we wandered around the store and hit these 4 spots:

Wandering Up and Down the Toy Aisle, Making Christmas and Birthday Wishlists

Michigan, Before the Internet: How Kids Stayed Busy at Meijer
Scott Clow / Canva

The toy aisle is just a fun place to begin with. But as a kid growing up in the 80s, experiencing their first moment of independence by being allowed to meander the Meijer toy aisle unsupervised was terrific! All the pictures I'd seen in the Sears or JCPenney Christmas Catalog (analog versions of Amazon) were in living color before me.

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While the toys were great, it wasn't the kind of place the 'cool kids' would hang around, so you always had to make sure that even if you were looking at the toys, you could easily make it look like you were on your way to look at the bikes. As the second stop on the Gen X Staying Busy at Meijer tour, the bike aisle was a primer for the auto parts store experience you'd have later in life.

Teenagers Flocked to Find Tiger Beat, Sports Illustrated, MAD Magazine, and Music

Michigan, Before the Internet: How Kids Stayed Busy at Meijer
Scott Clow

Once you'd reached a particular stage in your Michigan youth, you graduated from toys to music (sadly not pictured) and magazines. While finding music at Meijer is now nearly impossible, they have many books and magazines (you know, those things with pages that turn.)

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While angsty 80s teens were thumbing through Cracked and Teen Vogue, each of them silently ached for the fourth stop in Meijer's teen romp:

 Michigan Asks: Did You Really Go To Meijer IF You Didn't See the Fish?

Michigan, Before the Internet: How Kids Stayed Busy at Meijer
Scott Clow / Canva

Did you really think I'd forget about the powerful allure of the aquariums? Who doesn't love looking? I can tell you that no amount of convincing, pleading, or cajoling would net me a fish when I begged my mother for one. Nor, now that I think about it, have I EVER SEEN A FISH SOLD AT MEIJER.

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There you have it—the four ways Gen X stayed busy, unsupervised, at Meijer. How many of these stops do you still make today?

KEEP READING: Check out these totally awesome '80s toys

Gallery Credit: Angela Underwood

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SEE: 30 Toys That Defined the '70s


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