Spartan Stores was first known as Grand Rapids Wholesale Grocery Company when it formed as a food wholesale cooperative in 1917. The resilience of the company was tested early on, but by the mid-1920s, it was a firmly-established business, posting a sales volume of $800,000 and above. The company actually grew in size and sales through the Depression and World War II, emerging with $10 million in sales in 1949.
By the late 1950s, the company had changed its name to Spartan Stores, Inc. and continued growing. Spartan had spread across the state of Michigan, expanded the business through acquisitions and added new lines of products to meet the demands of consumers. The company hit its first year at $100 million in sales in 1964 and hit $1 billion less than 20 years later in 1982. By 1991, sales were at $2 billion.
In 2000, Spartan stock became publicly traded on the NASDAQ National Market. Throughout the rest of the 2000s, Spartan continued expansion, particularly in the supermarket segment, adding 53 stores during this period.