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    Meijer Seeks Kids for New Commercial

    Photo contest will pair iconic penny horse with retailer's youngest shoppers

    Midwestern superstore chain Meijer is offering its younger customers a chance to star in an upcoming television commercial, and it will only cost them a penny.

    Meijer is asking customers to submit photos featuring their children or their younger selves riding its iconic penny horse, Sandy, through a "Star with Sandy" contest application on the Meijer Facebook page. Ten winners will receive $100 Meijer gift cards and all photos have the chance to appear in the commercial, said Nicole Laughlin, VP of brand development for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer.

    "Sandy is unique to Meijer and we're pleased to have her as part of our shopping experience," Laughlin said. "We look forward to sharing these special moments in our advertising, to help us say 'hello' to new neighbors and bring a smile to seasoned Sandy riders in the communities we've served for much longer."

    The commercial is scheduled to debut across the Midwest retailer's five-state footprint in 2014, and will feature images of children riding Sandy over several generations. Entries will be accepted through Feb. 6

    Sandy's 50-year History

    The iconic mechanical horse made its debut with the opening of Thrifty Acres in 1962, when the late Fred Meijer, who had a long history with horses, learned of 10-cent pony rides at a supermarket in Nebraska. Fred thought a dime was a lot of money and decided to charge one penny, a price which has since become a symbol of family shopping at reasonable prices. "If you can put a penny in you can be a hero to the kids for a penny, or for three cents for three kids," Meijer wrote in Fred Meijer: In His Own Words.

    Sandy has been a fixture at the front of all Meijer stores across the Midwest for decades, and is often the last thing a child remembers on the way out of the store. The only time Fred Meijer felt bad for having ponies in the store was in 1964, when the Greenville, Mich., store burned down. He remembered children were crying because they thought the horse had burned up.

    "My dad believed in making things affordable for our customers and that included Sandy," Meijer Co-Chairman Doug 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."

    Meijer operates 204 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

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