In the Beginning (1930s – 1940s)
Marsh is an Indiana, home-grown original. In 1931, Ermal Marsh founded his first store on West Jackson Street in Muncie, Indiana. The store weathered the Great Depression, and grew slowly and steadily during the 1930s and the war years of the 1940s.
Two years after the war ended, Ermal Marsh expanded the West Jackson Street store and renamed it “Marsh Foodliner”, which became the first supermarket in Muncie.
Company and Industry Evolution (1950s – 1960s)
The 1950s were growth years for Marsh. In 1952, Marsh built a warehouse, distribution, and office complex in Yorktown, Indiana. That same year, the company incorporated as Marsh Foodliners and began selling its popular brand of Marsh Ice Cream. By 1953, Ermal Marsh’s single store had grown to a chain of 16 stores and Marsh Supermarkets became a publicly held company.
Tragedy struck in August 1959, when a plane crash near Logansport, Indiana took the life of founder Ermal Marsh. Ermal’s brother Estel Marsh became the second president of the company.
In the ’60s, Marsh was able to get in on the ground floor of what has proved to be one of the most enduring trends in the retail food industry: the convenience store. The first of what would become today’s Village Pantry convenience stores was opened in 1966.
In 1968, Estel Marsh was elected chairman of the board. Following his uncle Estel’s promotion, Don Marsh, the 30-year-old son of founder Ermal Marsh, was named as Marsh’s third president. Don Marsh was a 1961 graduate of Michigan State University and had worked in Marsh stores since he was in grade school. Don and his brothers Alan and William stepped firmly into place as the second generation of new-age Marsh grocerymen.
Growing With New Technology (1970s – 1990s)
Throughout its history, Marsh has been a technological leader in the food retail industry. On June 26, 1974, a cashier at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio scanned a 10-pack of chewing gum across her register, earning Marsh the distinction of being the first grocery store in the world to utilize scanners. The use of scanners grew slowly, but today, nearly every retail outlet in the country employs electronic scanners to ring up purchases and to provide computerized inventory control.
By the 1990s, more than 40 percent of the chain’s stores were located in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, a geographical reality that dictated the company’s construction of the current corporate headquarters in 1991.
In recent years, Marsh has pioneered a number of other grocery retailing innovations. In 1995, Marsh rolled out the Marsh Fresh IDEA® Card, which allowed customers to take advantage of electronically applied instant discounts. That same year, Marsh Fresh Express introduced home grocery delivery in Indianapolis and became the first local supermarket chain to offer telephone and online home grocery shopping.
In 1991, Marsh unveiled its “Supermarket of the Future”. A 24-hour store open seven days a week, this new store format includes a full-service pharmacy, fresh fruit and salad bar, espresso bar, bagel shop, sushi bar, pie and pastry shop, New York-style pizzeria, Fielding’s Playhouse for children, an ATA travel center, an in-store bank, and many other specialty services.
Throughout the ’90s, Marsh continued to open stores with this format, which has become the “Fresh” format.
An Exciting Future (2000 & Beyond)
Today, Marsh Supermarkets is a regional food retailer in the Midwest operating 97 Supermarkets throughout Indiana and Ohio. Marsh’s continued innovation and old-fashioned customer service will make Marsh a leader in the new millennium.
Marsh’s market driven strategy and unwavering commitment to excellence in customer service provide a firm foundation for each of its operations as the company enters the new millennium. Since 1931, Marsh has built a heritage of serving customers in its hometown communities throughout Indiana and Ohio. That community identification stems from a proud past, and Marsh believes it will lead to an even brighter future.