Marsh, then and now

December 7, 2009
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The next chapter in the saga of Marsh Supermarkets is about to unfold as its owner, Sun Capital Partners, prepares to put the grocery chain up for sale.

IBJ reporter Cory Schouten writes that Sun has hired William Blaire & Co., a Chicago investment bank, to seek offers. The next owner probably will be a grocery chain, not another private equity firm like Sun, Schouten reported. Read his story here.

Three years after its acquisition, Marsh is a very different company, and not just because its convenience stores, catering business and real estate holdings have been spun off.

In the years when Marsh was a public company, shareholders would show up at annual meeting after annual meeting to complain about lavish spending in the “C” offices, only to be brushed off. Then in March this year Marsh sued former CEO Don Marsh, claiming he took trips around the world and otherwise basically spent a lot of company money on himself.

Now that Marsh is being operated with a greater emphasis on the bottom line, is the shopping experience any different? Can you tell new management is at the helm? Is the experience better or worse?


  • poor service
    The prices are slightly lower (which isn't saying much), but the service level has dropped significantly and most of the employees do not seem very happy.
  • Yes, it's better.
    For years I was an O'Malia's shopper. Then, when they didn't have some items I regularly purchased, I switched to Marsh for some of my shopping. Now, with the demise of the last nearby O'Malia's, I'm doing all my shopping at Marsh. The quality of the meat seems better. THe produce is absolutely better. And, there's more emphasis on the specialty products. I was afraid they'd do a Kroger and tout their store brands to the detriment of better brands. That's not happened. It's a classic you get what you pay for. Marsh may not be the low cost provider but they certainly do a great job these days!
  • Marsh - not what it used to be
    I just visited Kroger for the first time in years. I went because Marsh quit carrying my favorite margarine and when I brought it to their attention, I got "Sorry, that's the way it is." In the old days they would have at least made an effort to make me happy.
  • Service gone
    The customer used to be right - no longer. I only shop at Marsh when I absolutely have NO time to make the trip to Meijer. Almost always disappointed.
  • Good people, bad products
    The staff at the Nora Marsh remain friendly and helpful, but the merchandise--especially the produce--has gone downhill, no matter how they try to dress it up with displays and kiosks.
  • Marsh
    Marsh is still the most expensive. I don't have a lot to do, so I have compared prices at four stores. I think Kroger is going to kill off Marsh in the long term, so they might as well sell to Kroger. Their new stores are great and their prices keep going down. Target has good prices for what I buy, but the selection is limited. Meijer is okay but their self-checkout is awful and the shopping experience is not great. Their doors look like a tank hit them. Great produce department, though.
    The best experience is Trader Joe's.
  • Definitely a change
    I shop at the Nora Marsh as well--I have noticed that the specialty products are starting to edge out the standard products and brands in shelf space, and cost significantly more. Meats lack variety--no more manager's specials, and it's all the same cuts--and have gone way up in price compared to Kroger for the same product. It's gotten so I don't buy anything unless there is a discount on it for using my store card. A Kroger is opening soon on 86th St. just west of the Nora Marsh--we'll see what happens...based on my current experience I will probably switch to Kroger.
  • The Good 'Ole Days
    I remember when O'Malia's was a pretty good store, then when they went down, my family would go to Marsh because of the quality.

    The other day, I went into Marsh, the meat counter was converted, and service was cut back. I looked around to see if there were anything that I could get and found the prices, products, and service are not special or make me feel like I should go there.

    I am now going to Meijer for the services I expected from Marsh. The Meat Counter, the Specialty items, the selection, the customer service, even when there is a shortage of employees at Meijer, I still get service... service which isn't at the Marsh's I have gone to lately.

    I guess that in simple, I want to have customer service, not a cold look to obtaining food. I like to know a little about my meat before purchasing it, a little assistance when searching for special items (like finding Chorizo Pork, fruits, veggies, and Organic products). If these products are not on the shelves, I want to talk to someone about finding it. To remove the human experience is terrible customer service.
  • Much better
    I shop at two Marsh stores--the former downtown O'Malia's, and the former LoBill's at 53rd and Keystone. Both have improved dramatically under the new ownership. It's more predictable what each one carries and the service at both has also improved--quicker and friendlier overall, in my experience.
  • Marsh
    I would drive further to go to Marsh any day. Although the Kroger is on the corner closest to my home, I can't stand their clogging up the ailes with junk displays - so much for their remodel for additional space and they still junk it up. Additionally, looking for traditional brand products is being squeezed out with their Kroger brands. Kroger also has lousy produce. My vote and loyalty goes to Marsh!
  • Service Suffering
    Ours is a small, rural community and I don't expect SuperStore Service. It would be nice, however, if the local mgt. had the capacity to buy/order non-stocked items for a customer - like he/she used to be able to do. Either they don't any longer have the authority or they don't any longer have the will. Either way, when they tell me that something is no longer available and I find it in the Kroger only one town away, it leaves a bad taste.
  • boo marsh
    Marsh is great if you don't mind paying 3 times what you will at Meijer. It's honestly not that much better than any other grocer.
  • Buy stock, not groceries.
    Once when I asked why his suits were higher than another taylor's, Harry Oliver told me, "you can't be the best and the cheapest." Several products are no longer carried by Marsh. Now I must go to other groceries for them and while there purchase products that Marsh does offer. It's as though Marsh is trying to compete with big box discounters. I always liked to shop at Marsh, but I wouldn't have invested in Marsh common stock. That's all changed now that the accountants have taken over.
  • Agree with BerwickGuy
    I will agree with you BerwickGuy. Kroger does have too much junk in the center isles. Sometimes it does pay to keep your center isles clean with products people want and not with garbage of impulse items and random items. I use to work @ Meijer, and one of the things that they always taught quite a few of their employees is to use that center space as time-sensative product placement (like school products in august, summer stuff in May, June, and July, and candy in October) space and not crap filler (like discount movies and random items).

    on a different point, I will go to Kroger or Walmart if I need something right then and there (if they are the closest and I am too lazy to go anywhere else), but not for my regular shopping.
  • Gnetlema's C+
    I shop at the East 96th Marsh. It's ok. The selection in general isn't bad, the meat department is good, employees are generally friendly. The main advantage is that it's quicker to get in and out of than the big box stores.
  • Conscious Shopper
    Sun is all about the money. They've cut so much fat, they're down to the bone is many places, and customer service has suffered greatly. Quality is still better than the other grocers and China-Mart, though.

    The whole company has been for sale since day two. And now that they've cut the bad expenses (Don and family, etc) they are profitable, but the industry standard 1% probably doesn't excite Sun.

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