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Carmel’s grocery-turned-library returns to its roots

New Niemann Harvest Market grocery store in former Carmel Marsh location (WISH Photo)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — With the snip of a ribbon and a ring of the register, a central Indiana retail space with a truly unusual history has returned to its roots.

Niemann Harvest Market is now open in Carmel at the Merchants Square shopping area at 116th Street and Keystone Parkway. The store prides itself on strong customer service and shopping through “experiences” including on-site juice making, butter churning, granola-making and ingredient prep for shoppers.

Now, to the history lesson.

Neighbors to the store have already spent years shopping there for milk, eggs, bread… and books.

The Merchants Square storefront was, dating back to the 1970s, a stalwart store in the Marsh grocery chain. When the company collapsed in 2017, the store went vacant, like many others across the state.

Some of those buildings long sat idle, a few had new life with new grocery chains, others welcomed temporary tenants only to empty out again.

Only one of the ex-Marshes, the Carmel location, served as a library.

Carmel Public Library location in an old Marsh grocery store, October 2020. (Photos by Tammy Sander)

For roughly two years, starting in 2020, the Carmel Public Library relocated its collection to the old Marsh as the library’s main facility on Main Street went through a massive renovation. The old freezer section on 116th Street held periodicals, the cereal aisles housed fiction, and the butcher shop served up audiobooks. Library cards rather than credit cards got you through checkout.

Once the store’s two-year stint as a library ended, its future turned to Nieman Harvest Market. A total revamp of the old store gives it a whole new look inside and out, with produce immediately inside the door, fresh food and meal offerings to the right, and grocery shelves to the left.

Opening day appeared to draw a strong turnout, with the parking lot so full that some shoppers had to park in front of neighboring stores.

Niemann has big plans for the rest of grand opening weekend:

Friday, May 17:

  • 5 – 9 p.m.: Tap Takeover with Big Lug Brewing!
  • 5 – 9 p.m.: Charcuterie, Snacks and more w/ Pig’s Tale Charcuterie

Saturday, May 18:

  •  9- 10 a.m.: Biscuits and coffee with Chef Twinkle
  • 10 – 11:30 a.m.: Chef Tanorria Demo w/ Signed Cookbook Giveaway (10 lucky winners!)
  • 1- 2 p.m.: Brunch negronis with Zach Wilks & 8th Day Distillery
  • 3 – 4:30 p.m.: Smoking Goose  + Create your own charcuterie board with Conundrum wine sampling
  • 5 – 7 p.m.: – Tito’s Vodka Takeover with cocktails and mingling in The Nook

Looking to the future, if the company’s first Indiana store succeeds and leads to further expansion, the name could lead to some confusion.

Niemann Harvest Market is the first Indiana location in a three-store chain, based in Illinois. The already-existing Harvest Market is based in Anderson and has stores in New Castle, Middletown, Frankton, Greensburg, Elwood, Chesterfield, and Alexandria.