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Grand Rapids importer started delivering groceries by bike near Amsterdam

Now supplying customers nationwide in the U.S.A.

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - A small-town grocer who made the rounds in Haarlemmermeer, near Amsterdam, picking-up orders, and then handpick and deliver them by bicycle over 50 years ago, now has the satisfaction watching his sons receive their shipments by container loads from the Netherlands. Somewhere in between, the bike-pedalling grocer packed up his family for the U.S.A. to make another start. While learning American ways, and another language he at the same time managed to find new customers.

The purchase of the small retail shop Vanís Dutch Imports, located in Grand Rapids gave Neal Peters the launching pad for bigger things. A year later, in 1977, his oldest son Ed joined the business, who concentrated on selling to retail stores in Western Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Americans of Dutch ancestry. Some years later, Ernie, the youngest son also joined the company. The rapidly growing wholesale business soon imported its merchandise directly. By the late 1980s, the company moved to much larger premises.

After Neal Peters officially retired (he still regularly shows up at the office), the sons settled on their family name as the corporate identity: Peters Imports. During the last decade, the company increasingly has been operating nationwide. Its retail store, distribution centre and corporate office all are located at a company-owned, 40,000 square foot building in Grand Rapids.

Nealís Dutch bicycle with delivery basket recently made a comeback on Petersí promotional literature even though retail mail order parcels these days are shipped anywhere by courier.