Marsh Hometown Market customers in the Columbus area who bring in shopping lists for items such as fresh meat, dairy products and dry goods can continue their routines — served by the same faces in the meat and deli departments and at the cash registers, but with a new sign over the front entrance starting Thursday.
The only question at this point is what name will be on the sign.
Findley, Ohio-based Fresh Encounter Inc. has agreed to manage 15 Indiana Marsh Supermarkets, including the 35,240-square-foot Columbus location, after parent company Generative Growth II, LLC, a privately held company, purchased a part of Fishers-based Marsh Supermarkets last week.
Fresh Encounter operates a line of groceries: Community Markets, Great Scott Community Markets, Sack ‘N Save Supermarket and Chief. A name for the Columbus location had not yet been determined as of Friday, the company said.
The Hometown Market at 3075 E. 25th St. in Columbus matches Fresh Encounter’s branding image, which aims to serve local communities through smaller markets similar to Columbus, said Julie Anderson, Fresh Encounter’s director of marketing.
“It was just a great fit,” she said.
When Marsh’s western style ribs are in stock, you can find James Woodmansee, 67, of Nashville, heading to the Columbus store.
“I’m hoping it stays as good as it is now,” Woodmansee said.
For Norma Mix, who drives from Hope — which doesn’t have a full-service grocery — to visit the Columbus market every two weeks, it’s the most convenient option.
“I’m just glad it’s still open,” she said.
Fresh Encounter President and CEO Michael Needler Jr. said the acquisition of the 15 Indiana stores is not only beneficial for Fresh Encounter, but also for associates of former Marsh Supermarket locations.
“We look forward to continuing their legacy of serving the customer with the best in fresh offerings and excellent customer service and returning the stores to a community-focused, family-owned organization,” Needler said.
All 15 Indiana stores will be rebranded on a regional basis during the next four months. Anderson said.
Fresh Encounter expects to retain all current Marsh employees, she said.
Fresh Encounter will pay a total of $7.8 million, but just $1.5 million for the 15 stores, or $100,000 each. The remaining $6.3 million will be used for the inventory that Fresh Encounter liquidates.
Capital improvement needs have not yet been assessed, nor has a final timeline for store updates at the Columbus location, Anderson said.
The Marsh store in Clover Center has been operated under a lease with Pardieck Development of Columbus, which has owned the property since 1982.
Marsh filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in May after closing 19 stores. During an auction this week, a Kroger subsidiary purchased an additional 11 Marsh stores. Eighteen Marsh stores which were not picked up in auction have begun liquidation sales as part of their closing.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Fresh Encounter” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Headquarters: Findlay, Ohio
Leadership: Michael Needler, Jr., president and CEO
Holdings: Operated and managed 44 local grocery stores in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana before acquiring 15 Indiana Marsh Supermarkets
History: Family owned for more than 60 years
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”New Fresh Encounter acquisitions” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Fresh Encounter will manage the following Indiana Marsh stores:
- New Palestine
- Indianapolis (2)
- Hartford City