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New Niemann Harvest Market Offers Guests A Shopping Destination

exterior photo of Niemann Harvest Market

Shoppers in Carmel, Indiana, have a new destination for their grocery needs. Niemann Harvest Market opened May 15, the first in the state for the Niemann Foods banner.

According to Store Director Sean Olson, what makes the store different is “everything that we do starts with partnerships with local producers and makers.”

He clarified that a producer is someone who grows something from the ground or raises livestock. A maker is someone who adds value to those items.

photo of Sean Olson holding a pumpkin
Sean Olson

When entering a new market, Olson said the first thing the company does is establish “meaningful partnerships with people who share the same passion for food that we do and the same commitment to quality that we do.

“That, in a nutshell, is an idea of what our culture is, what our philosophy is. We want to connect our associates and our guests back to the farmers, to the food makers and to the land,” he explained.

Olson said the Harvest Market staff wants to build an experience for their customers.

“We want this to be a destination. We don’t even use the word ‘grocery store.’ This is a shopping destination. It’s a food experience.”

Among the store’s features are a fresh-squeezed orange juice machine on the sales floor and a butter-churning room adjacent to the dairy department.

Olson said the store uses local sweet cream that is churned to make butter to sell in the store and used in the on-site restaurant, scratch bakery and deli. The buttermilk also is used in biscuits and other items made in-store.

In addition to the different features of interest throughout the store, Niemann Harvest Market also has experts at its service counters.

“Because we do so many different things from scratch, when you interact with one of the associates at a service counter, you can say, ‘What’s in this? “And they can tell you because they’ve probably made it.”

Olson said the focus on making food from scratch – with an attention to quality and understanding what goes into making those products – is part of the desire to interact with guests “over a shared mutual passion for food, so people aren’t just pulling a premade item out of a box.”

Reaction from guests usually begins the same way.

“We get a lot of ‘wow,’” Olson said. “It’s a brand-new store and that attention to detail is immaculate – from the décor down to the cases that we’ve picked out and the messaging that we have.”

The store also features a full-service bar and restaurant, offering local craft beer, wine and cocktails. The eatery sources its food and ingredients from the store.

In addition to the restaurant, chefs also are employed in the delicatessen. Meat from local farmers is roasted in-house and prepared for customers, along with a selection of items in the hot and cold cases.

This includes a large variety of salads, lasagna, grilled salmon, grilled chicken, Salisbury steak, meatloaf and “a wide variety of items that again are restaurant-caliber items that are ready and prepared for the convenience for our guests,” Olson said.

Two Niemann Harvest Market employees with charcuterie board items

Gourmet sandwiches also are available, made with in-house roasted meats, along with a selection of Boar’s Head meats and cheeses.

In another acknowledgement of the partnership with local producers, Olson said every egg cracked at the store – in the bakery, deli or restaurant – comes from Little Farm on the Prairie. The sweet cream used by the store comes from a dairy farm in Wayne County.

Story cards are found throughout the store, informing guests about the local producers and makers.

“We like to connect – again, going back to our mission statement, which is to connect our guests to the farmers and to the food makers and to the land – and one of the ways we do that is through the signage,” Olson said.

While this is the first Niemann Harvest Market in Indiana, there are two in Illinois. Olson, a University of Illinois business school graduate, came to Carmel after serving as store director at the Springfield, Illinois, location for three years. He moved to Carmel in January.

In addition to bringing 250 jobs to the area, Olson said the company revitalized a section of the city where the building had sat empty for several years. The company also is helping the community by donating products to local food banks.

With a population of about 100,000, Carmel is about 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. Surrounding cities of Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville all are  about 15-20 minutes away.

With Niemann Harvest Market designed to be a shopping destination, Olson said it draws guests from surrounding communities because “there are unique experiences to be had” within the store.

“We feel like those are important to people now, that they see shopping and see this relationship as something that can be enjoyable.”

He said guests can take their time, exploring what’s new in each department or enjoying live music in the restaurant.

Olson said he enjoys working for an independent grocer and the freedom that entails. He said the Harvest Market locations operate autonomously, to an extent, “so there’s some freedom and independence that allows us to better serve the communities that we’re in.”

He said the store “is able to organically grow based upon what the needs of the community are.” Many decisions can be made at the store level, and employees can react quickly to changing trends or different challenges within the market.

Olson also appreciates the opportunities to build relationships with shoppers.

“We get to do things from scratch, and we get to be creative. We create our own items at store level many times and embrace new recipes and new ideas. It makes it a fun place to be.”

Olson added that he could talk about the new store for hours, as it has “so many” layers.

“But again, it’s about building a relationship with the community,” he said. “It’s about giving our guests a unique shopping experience that’s enjoyable. It’s about good food that tastes great, always.”

[RELATED: Indiana ‘Beset’ With Same Economic Problems As Rest Of U.S.]

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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