NEW PALESTINE — Shoppers packed the aisles of the former Marsh store, perusing the products and eyeing the “new lower price!” signs throughout the supermarket.
Managers and staff offered refreshments like fruit and cake to those who attended the grand re-opening of the Needler’s Fresh Market store, 5802 U.S. 52, in the wake of its purchase from Marsh by Fresh Encounter, Inc., one of 14 acquired after the Marsh company folded.
“We’ve lowered a bunch of prices, because we know we need to win back the hearts of the people who come through those doors,” said Julie Anderson, director of marketing and co-owner of Fresh Encounter, Inc. “We’re slowly adding specialty programs and products.”
Story continues below gallery
Special products like “Dinner made easy” and “Ready, chef, go” provide quick, flavorful and healthy meals for people without a lot of time, Anderson said.
While many prices on products were lowered, the faces of those working at the store remained the same. The New Palestine supermarket retained about 68 employees, all of those working at the time of Marsh’s sale, and even hired back some employees who’d been cut before the store’s acquisition, said Michael S. Needler Jr., Fresh Encounter, Inc. co-owner.
Gary Halliburton, president of the New Palestine Chamber of Commerce, said he’s been delighted to watch the quality of products and appearance of the store improve since it was bought by Fresh Encounter.
The market is an important anchor business for the small town, he said. It originally opened as an Arthur’s store, a Marsh spinoff, before closing for about a year and a half. A letter writing campaign convinced Marsh to re-open the store, Halliburton said.
“We were disappointed when things started going downhill again,” he said. “Now we’re very excited someone of (Fresh Encounter’s) quality is taking over.”
Officials with Fresh Encounter first announced the New Palestine store would operate under their management in late June, but it wasn’t revealed what the store would be named at that time. The New Palestine grocery store was one of 26 Marsh stores in Indiana and Ohio that were sold to Fresh Encounter and Kroger Co. at an auction in June.
Generative Growth II, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, purchased 15 Marsh stores in Indiana and Ohio in June for $8 million. All Generative Growth locations are managed by Fresh Encounter, also based in Findlay, Ohio,
Store director Kyle Johns said being family-owned makes all the difference to his business and praised the Fresh Encounter owners for making sure his hardworking employees had a job when they took over.
“This town is the last little Mayberry,” he said. “We need a store like this here.”