Former Marsh store in Middletown opens under new name, ownership

One of the oldest grocery store chains in the area will reopen locations Tuesday, including one in Middletown, with a new design and name.

Generative Growth purchased 15 Marsh stores in June for $8 million, and 14 stores will reopen under the namesake Needler’s Fresh Market. Three stores in Middletown, Eaton and Troy are receiving the new store branding.

FIRST REPORT: Marsh stores, including Middletown location, to get new name, look

Formerly known as Marsh Supermarket, the new Needler’s Fresh Market store located at 621 N. University Blvd. in Middletown will celebrate its grand opening at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Festivities will include product samples, giveaways and more.

The new market, along with several other former Marsh stores in the region, will focus on local, fresh produce while providing in-store made products in the bakery and deli.

The market’s new owner, Generative Growth, is based out of Findlay and owns 25 supermarkets in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. All Generative Growth locations are managed by Fresh Encounter Inc., a Findlay-based supermarket management company founded by Michael and Susan Needler.

Other newly branded locations include nearly a dozen locations in Indiana.

“Customers can expect a clean, fresh look with our marketing and communication,” said Julie Anderson, vice president of marketing and partner in Generative Growth II.

RELATED: Marsh may close area grocery stores if no buyer is found

For months, it was unclear if Marsh stores would even remain open.

Marsh filed for bankruptcy in May after closing 19 stores, and the company estimated its liabilities at $100 million to $500 million and assets at $50 million to $100 million at the time. The supermarket chain announced all 44 supermarkets would close if a buyer cannot be found within 60 days.

At its peak, Marsh operated 120 supermarkets in Indiana and Ohio before being purchased by Sun Capital Partners in 2006. In January 2014, Marsh closed its Main Street Market store in Franklin, along with seven other stores. In 2013, the Main Street Market in Hamilton closed.

MORE: Marsh grocery store closing in Hamilton leaves void

“Marsh had a great reputation for fresh food and excellent customer service and we want to keep that going,” Anderson said.

Michael Needler Jr., a partner in Generative Growth and CEO of Needler Enterprises subsidiary Fresh Encounter, said Needler’s Fresh Market “truly represents who we are as a family and as an operator.”

“My sister, Julie (Anderson), and I have grown up in the grocery business and look forward to bringing our genuine family values to the former Marsh stores,” Needler said. “I know customers will begin to experience the pride we feel serving our friends and neighbors every day.”

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Marsh has longstanding history within the grocery business. The first item ever scanned with a bar code — or the Universal Product Code (UPC) — was scanned at the checkout of Troy’s Marsh Supermarket with the help of National Cash Register, which installed scanners and computers for the store. The grocery store staff spent hours putting bar codes on hundreds of items.

The first “shopper” was Clyde Dawson, who was head of research and development for Marsh Supermarket; the pioneer cashier who “served” him, Sharon Buchanan, according to research from the Smithsonian. The first item scanned was allegedly a multi-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

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