Who was Mr. Harding?

And was he even a real person or is this another Betty Crocker situation here? Inquiring minds want to know!

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And by inquiring minds I mean, me.

Sure, we know all about the Meijer family; you can't escape that name in Michigan if you tried! Certainly not here in west Michigan of all places. According to Forbes the Meijer family is ranked 27th on their list of "45 families worth at least $10 billion." Another Michigan family, Stryker, is also on that list.

Hardings Plainwell Michigan
Harding's Plainwell, Michigan - Google Maps

If you're not shopping Meijer for your groceries in Michigan you're probably opting for Kroger, D&W, and here in southwest Michigan we have plenty of Harding's Friendly Markets.

So, who was Mr. Harding-- if such a person even exists?

Thankfully it took no time at all to reveal that yes in fact, there was a real Mr. Harding. However, there's limited information detailing his background. Here's what I came up with:

Hardings Parchment Michigan
Harding's Parchment, Michigan - Google Maps

According to the Parchment, Michigan Harding's Facebook Melvin R. Harding opened his first market there in 1944. Another source adds,

Mr. Harding started his grocery career in 1925 with a national chain and in 1944 he opened the first Harding's Friendly Market in Parchment, Michigan...sons and grandsons are still involved in the ownership and operation of the Harding's Friendly Markets today.

Hardings Indiana
Harding's Middlebury, Indiana - Google Maps

Mr. Harding was so committed to quality customer service there was allegedly a policy in place where no customers carried out their own groceries and if they were not greeted upon entering the checkout lane they were entitled to a reward. It doesn't get much more old school than that!

Today Harding's Friendly Markets operates 28 locally-owned stores across Southwest Michigan and Indiana.

According to information from an online obituary Melvin R. Harding was born in Kentucky in 1906 and passed away in Schoolcraft, Michigan on Mar 23, 1985 at age 79. Harding is buried at Mt. Ever-Rest on S. Westnedge St. in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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