INDIANAPOLIS - Some loyal Marsh shoppers were already in mourning Friday after learning their local store would be among eight locations slated to be closed by the grocery chain.
On Thursday, Marsh announced it would close seven locations in central Indiana and one in Ohio. Three stores in Indianapolis are among those affected.
"It just makes me really sad," said one Marsh shopper at the Speedway location. "We've lived in Speedway for 22 years. I've always shopped here. I know the people here. You go in, they know who you are."
The neighborhood feel has been a hallmark of Marsh supermarkets since Ermal Marsh opened the first one in 1931 in Muncie.
Since then, the chain has survived the Great Depression and WWII, as well as stiff competition from big box competitors like Wal-Mart. That competition has taken its toll, though, as Marsh officials cited a declining customer base and expiring leases as the major factors in the closings.
"Customers have spoken, and we are reacting to the realities of the markets and making difficult decisions to address the long-term health of the company," said Connie Gardner, senior director of community relations for Marsh, in a press release.
Gardner said the closings are the first part of a "three-year plan … to position Marsh Supermarkets for growth and profitability."
That plan includes a major capital program to standardize the Marsh brand and update and remodel existing locations, Gardner said.
Some customers said they would continue shopping at Marsh, even if it meant driving a little farther.
"I go to Marsh a lot, and I guess I'm going to have to find another location," said a shopper who frequents the Lafayette Road location – one of three in Indianapolis targeted for closing. "I mean I prefer Marsh over the other stores anyway. I'm going to go to Marsh wherever I have to go."
Marsh employs 9,000 people across its 97 locations. It wasn't immediately clear how many would be affected by the store closings, though Marsh officials said they are working with affected employees to place them in other stores. In cases where that isn't possible, Marsh said it will provide employees with a severance package.
The affected stores in Indiana are:
- 3910 W. West Bethel Ave., Muncie
- 3705 S. Madison St., Muncie
- 2802 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis
- 5249 Thompson Road, Indianapolis
- 6121 Crawfordsville Road, Speedway
- 1772 N. Main St., Franklin
- 2250 N. Lebanon St., Lebanon