Marsh Supermarket 1980s-90s

Marsh Supermarket 1980s-90s

Marsh was founded in 1931 by Ermal Marsh, after taking an interest in his fathers’ grocery store. He opened his first store in Muncie in 1931 on Jackson St. Marsh soon franchised to other locations, like Kilgore Ave, and were small supermarkets, but the company began opening larger stores in 1947. The first distribution center was built in Yorktown in 1952, and the company went public in 1953, and had 97 stores at the time. Ermal Marsh died in 1959, and the company was taken over by his brother Estel.

Marsh Supermarkets, during the 80's and 90's, exemplified the modernization and expansion of the grocery retail sector in the Midwest. As a pioneering entity, it embraced technological advancements to enhance customer experience and operational efficiency. Notably, in 1974, it became the first supermarket to use a barcode scanner, paving the way for a new era in retail technology. As the 80's commenced, Marsh continued to expand its footprint by acquiring or opening new stores, reflecting the growing consumer demand.

 The 90's saw further growth and modernization, with the implementation of computer systems and loyalty programs, like the Marsh Fresh IDEA club, to retain customers and streamline operations. Through these decades, Marsh's trajectory mirrored the broader trends of technological adoption and market expansion in the American retail landscape. They introduced home delivery via phone or fax in 1995.

Marsh filed for bankruptcy in March of 2017, after significant financial trouble, and had only 44 stores remaining at the time after closing around 20 in early 2017. Eleven of the 44 were sold to Kroger, and two of the five Muncie locations were converted into Payless stores. Two of the three locations were made into self-storage, and one sits empty. The original Foodliner on Jackson St. is now home to Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service.


marsh gallery (photos from lost muncie and star press)

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