Grand Rapids museum shares the story behind Amway

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids is the home of Amway Corp.

But what is Amway?

Sure, Amway today is a household name around the world for health, beauty and home care products.

But 50 years ago, it was just another of two local men's efforts to realize the American way of free enterprise.

A new Grand Rapids Public Museum exhibit recounts how Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel peppered the marketplace with a wide range of products and services before launching the Ada-based direct sales giant in 1959.

"It's this entrepreneurial story about trying and succeeding," said Chris Carron, museum director of education, interpretation and research. "They tried and they failed. They tried and they failed. They were constantly looking for that formula that would succeed.

"Not succeeding in the end was never really an option. That's a great lesson."

The 2,400-square-foot exhibit, titled "Amway: 50 Years of Helping People Live Better Lives," matches the size of the company's first operating space. There are more than 600 artifacts and images on loan from Amway and its founding families...

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