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A grocery store strike decades in the making
July 21, 2014 6:17 AM   Subscribe

If you like cheap groceries and live in Massachusetts, you may have noticed this weekend that the shelves were bare at Market Basket. Employees of the company staged a walkout on Friday to show their support for Arthur T. Demoulas, the company's recently ousted president. Many people have questioned the sudden change in management.

Last night eight employees were terminated; despite this, a rally is planned for this morning in Tewksbury. Employees of Market Basket have set up their own website, with up to date information about the rallies, and much about the back story to this saga, including some links to copies of court documents.

The Demoulas family's legal battles are the stuff of legend in Massachusetts. The family has been feuding in court for decades. Two lawyers were disbarred for their conduct in one Demoulas case. Last year, Arthur T. survived an attempt to remove him from the board. Amid the protests, some remain skeptical of Arthur T.'s cause.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork (85 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Market Basket is great and I'll be really sad if all of this management brouhaha leads to big changes (i.e., raising their prices in line with every other grocery store in the Boston Area - even though there's a TJ's and a Shaw's within 15/20 minutes walk of my apartment, we'll make a MB trip every week - which involves taking an infrequent bus like thirty minutes each way - because the groceries are just that much cheaper).
posted by dismas at 6:25 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


This is some Game of Thrones shit.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:26 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Game of Thrones shit

The Demoulas family makes Ramsay Snow look like Betty Crocker
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:29 AM on July 21 [11 favorites]


I was sure it would look like the Zombie Apocalypse at my Basket yesterday morning, but things were pretty normal. The fish counter was closed, and the produce section had several notable bare spots, but otherwise pretty normal.

The store itself was full of pro-Arthur T. signage and an employee was right in front of the door at a table with a "Bring Back Artie" petition that seemed to be getting plenty of signatures. So obviously corporate doesn't have much sway over the goings-on in the stores at this point if they can be so openly in defiance.
posted by briank at 6:31 AM on July 21




I had the misfortune of showing up at my Market Basket yesterday afternoon around 3, and the shelves for produce & meat were shockingly bare. It was a pretty stark reminder of how fragile my food supply chain is.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:44 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


The link behind the words "the stuff of legend in Massachusetts" do a good, quick job of summing up the first half of this epic shitshow.

*shakes head* For some reason, family+money=disaster more often than not. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 6:45 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


If you like cheap groceries and live in Massachusetts

In this context, "cheap" means "inexpensive compared to similar supermarket chains" - they're neither a discounter like PriceRite or WalMart, nor are they a store-brand generics outlet like Aldi or Trader Joe's. The stores are generally clean, modern and convenient with a full selection of national and local brands and fresh meat and produce.

Also, when I was living in Waltham, the one within walking distance had a peanut butter grinder they let the customers use. Peanut butter so fresh it was still warm, mmmm.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:47 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


A story going around is that Arthur T. (he's the ousted one) had a bunch of money set aside to open some new stores, but Arthur S. (the guy now in charge) got control of the board and froze the expansion. Arthur T. then used the money to give all customers a discount of a few percent on everything, for about six months. I think it is around 4%. The cashiers use a highlighter on your receipt to point out the discount. I thought it was some kind of general promotion, but now it looks like Arthur T was preparing the public for this employee-led uprising. Politicians are now lining up to support the Pro-T movement.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:58 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


The link behind the words "the stuff of legend in Massachusetts" do a good, quick job of summing up the first half of this epic shitshow.

That link has nice photos to boot, but the writer has some nice flourishes:

"Mike now owns this huge empire. And although the brothers had promised to take care of each others’ families in the event one of them died, Mike slowly went full asshole instead."

[...]

"Oh my god, my fucking head hurts trying to explain this because it can’t even be real, but it is."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:04 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


They replaced the outgoing guy with the former CEO of Radio Shack. Which I think is something they teach you not to do during your first week in business school.
posted by compartment at 7:23 AM on July 21 [59 favorites]


the one within walking distance had a peanut butter grinder

Oh that sounds equally disgusting or delicious.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:26 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


@wenestvedt: i'm actually the writer behind the "clamsplainer" article (i've taken some time off metafilter for this blog and my day job). thanks! i worked my butt off on it, and i have to write the second part tonight, probably at the bar.
posted by kpht at 7:38 AM on July 21 [34 favorites]


It sounds like it's probably best to write about whilst drinking. Thanks for the explanation of an utterly amazing mess.
posted by frimble at 7:45 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


There are two already built MB stores that have been left empty for more than 6 months. The mayors of Revere, MA and Saugus, MA have written letters to the Demoulas asking wassup? Also a 3rd store planned for Lynn, MA has been delayed.
posted by Gungho at 7:48 AM on July 21


Wow, this brings me back. Do the employees still wear ties and aprons? Do the managers still wear those jackets? Do they still spread sawdust for spills? The deli counter there was one of my favorite places as a kid.
posted by otio at 7:50 AM on July 21


Also a 3rd store planned for Lynn, MA has been delayed.

Ugh. Lynn could really use the jobs.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:53 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Do the employees still wear ties and aprons? Do the managers still wear those jackets? Do they still spread sawdust for spills?

Yes, yes, and yes. It is a magical place. It will be a shame if/when this corporate fuckery destroys them.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:56 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


> They replaced the outgoing guy with the former CEO of Radio Shack.

Even worse, the former CEO of Radio Shack is merely a co-CEO, the other being Felicia Thornton from Albertson's.

Because apparently the best thing a successful regional grocery chain should do is adopt a top-heavy managerial chain and emulate the corporate leadership strategy behind one of the most spectacular failures in the technology industry ever.
posted by ardgedee at 7:59 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


They replaced the outgoing guy with the former CEO of Radio Shack. Which I think is something they teach you not to do during your first week in business school.

Really? Is it this guy?

Even CEO Can't Figure Out How Radio Shack Still In Business.
posted by Naberius at 8:01 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


a co-CEO

Well, there's an organization in good shape.
posted by tyllwin at 8:05 AM on July 21 [8 favorites]


Because apparently the best thing a successful regional grocery chain should do is adopt a top-heavy managerial chain and emulate the corporate leadership strategy behind one of the most spectacular failures in the technology industry ever.

The question is "who are they working for."

Apparently, someone on the board has decided that it's far better to have two great quarters on the books than four okay ones, so they can sell their holdings at a profit. The easiest way to get a great quarter is to fire people and raise prices. After a quarter, with revenue up and staffing costs down, you show a nice profit. Of course, after three quarters, revenue drops hard because customers don't come in anymore, but you don't care -- you've sold your position.

That's what's going on. The board is also pissed that the last guy just gave away a bunch of money in discounts.

See, that's who the CEO works for. Not the workers. Not the customers. For the board of directors. And the current board wants MONEY NOW.

So, yeah, figure that the Market Basket you know is dead. Best thing you can do it to stop going now, to crush it, so that the current board -- you know, the ones who fucked over the workers and you -- don't get to make much money in the cash out.

Indeed, if you all stop going right now, there might be enough of a fight to put the old guy back. I doubt that'll happen, though. So, really, just accept that Market Basket is gone.

Sucks, I know. Welcome to America, Land Of Opportunity (to destroy great companies for short term gain.)
posted by eriko at 8:10 AM on July 21 [31 favorites]


Arthur T. then used the money to give all customers a discount of a few percent on everything, for about six months. I think it is around 4%.

A year. Started in January, ends in December. And yes, 4% on everything. Including, like, if you buy a bulb of garlic for $0.67. You get 4% off that, so your bill has a little (- $0.02) on it.

Do the employees still wear ties and aprons? Do the managers still wear those jackets? Do they still spread sawdust for spills?

Yes, yes, and yes. (On Preview: I see I'm echoing Elem Penguin's comment, which is correct about the MAGIC.) The Somerville one sometimes has hilariously young bag boys - like, they look 12, ESPECIALLY in the little shirts and ties.
posted by maryr at 8:15 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Aw man I want to read part 2 of the clam's story right now.
posted by elizardbits at 8:17 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


> Apparently, someone on the board has decided that it's far better to have two great quarters on the books than four okay ones, so they can sell their holdings at a profit. The easiest way to get a great quarter is to fire people and raise prices. After a quarter, with revenue up and staffing costs down, you show a nice profit. Of course, after three quarters, revenue drops hard because customers don't come in anymore, but you don't care -- you've sold your position.

tl;dr version: "pump and dump"
posted by ardgedee at 8:18 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


tl;dr version: "pump and dump"

Technically not. True pump and dump is when you just tell everyone how amazing the company will be, then sell your stocks when they buy in because of what you've done.

This is closer to a bust out than a pump and dump.
posted by eriko at 8:25 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Indeed, if you all stop going right now, there might be enough of a fight to put the old guy back. I doubt that'll happen, though

I just saw that 17 legislators have signed a letter urging a boycott.

I wish I'd known about it before I went shopping there this weekend- I'd just gotten home from the mountains in NH and was out of the loop. I think as more people get wind of this today it has some hope of catching on.

Fascinating about the source of the 4% discount, I had no idea about the back story to that. I cynically figured it was because food prices have been creeping up across the board. I used to be able to get a week of groceries for 3 for about $150, lately it's been steadily inching more towards $170, even with that discount.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 8:32 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I believe the appropriate term is "Bained," after former Part-Time Governor Romney's favorite business plan.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:34 AM on July 21 [9 favorites]


I worked at the Market Basket in Rindge, NH for 4 years through the end of High School and College. We were very well treated and compensated for a part time teenager job. Regular quarter raises, time and a half on Sundays and Holidays, free food and good pay for the overnight crew. Good pay for managers too, apparently. I dunno how much of that was Arthur S. or Arthur T. (pretty sure it was still "full asshole" Mike at that point honestly) but it's no surprise that the staff is fiercely loyal.

Of course I've permanently associated the place with cheap crap (probably unfairly), cajoling the 16 year olds who look 12 in a shirt and tie to go out and bring some damn carts into the store or clean the crap covered restrooms, and throwing sawdust on puddles of granny piss so I go to Stop and Shop instead.
posted by davros42 at 8:42 AM on July 21


See, that's who the CEO works for. Not the workers. Not the customers. For the board of directors

That's true of every company, of course.
posted by jpe at 8:52 AM on July 21


I had a co-worker who'd previously worked at the MB warehouse in Tewksbury. He told harrowing tales of workers assembling to unload railroad cars of goods and arming themselves with baseball bats because of the giant rats that always debarked when the doors were slid open. He claimed to never shop there after that. This (the tale-telling) was 20-some years ago. Doubtless everything is better now.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:53 AM on July 21


throwing sawdust on puddles of granny piss

Reminds me of the old Johnnie's Foodmaster at Broadway and Alewife Brook Parkway.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:54 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


My local Market Basket was running out of produce and meat when I shopped on Saturday. I assume that the shelves were pretty bare by the end of the day on Sunday.

There were posters of Arthur T. done in the Obama "Hope" style pasted up all over the store. I've never seen anything quite like it. The current management has lost control of this business.

It seems quite clear that the employees are supporting Arthur T. in this dispute, and I have no reason to doubt them, so I won't shopping there until the dispute is resolved.
posted by dweingart at 9:01 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


17 legislators

Well, that's promising in that it might at least make it more difficult for the current regime to enlist the cops as their private strikebreakers.
posted by tyllwin at 9:05 AM on July 21


This is some Game of Thrones shit.

the Red Breading
posted by threeants at 9:09 AM on July 21 [12 favorites]


Aw, this makes me sad. I love Market Basket, and worked at one for awhile as a teen (as did basically everyone that I went to highschool with). They were indeed a decent employer, at least by minimum-wage-grocery-store standards -- very flexible with hours, paid time-and-a-half every Sunday and all holidays (which is a hell of a lot better than most comparable employers would do), provided regular raises, and were known for their willingness to re-hire people after they had quit.

I really, really hope that this does not change, but I suspect that it will. :/
posted by likeatoaster at 9:27 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


My neighbor has been working at Market Basket for close to 30 years. He manages the meat department at one of the stores here in seacoast NH. While he supports Arthur T, he and his family are getting a little freaked that he might lose his job. They're already making contingency plans involving selling their house and bolting to sunnier climes.

I've been going to MB since I was wee, back when the stores were invariably grungy and, yes, the floors were covered in sawdust (I always liked how that made it easy to slide around on them). Their newer stores are very modern and nice, and their refrigerated aisles are the coldest of any store I've ever been to - seriously, you need a sweater. And their low prices have managed to chase Stop & Shop out of New Hampshire, and force Shaw's to close a number of stores.

Finally, if you want real, imported Greek feta, the MB deli counter is your friend.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:39 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


throwing sawdust on puddles of granny piss

"no puddles of granny piss. That's the Fairsley difference."
posted by xbonesgt at 9:43 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of the old Johnnie's Foodmaster at Broadway and Alewife Brook Parkway.

We live two blocks from there. Carpet in the produce section, what a terrible idea. Plus every single vegetable (including potatoes and onions) stashed in the coolers for some reason. It's a Stop and Shop now, and while it's certainly cleaner we usually only ever go there if we need a quick thing.

Is Market Basket a union shop? We were discussing the strike at lunch today and we couldn't figure out who organized the walkout or if it was just kind of a spontaneous thing.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:52 AM on July 21


And seriously, losing Market Basket would be a blow. With Whole Foods buying out Hi-Lo and the entire Johnny's Foodmaster chain within the past couple of years, affordable grocery options are getting pretty thin on the ground. Pretty soon we'll be limited to the choice between Whole Foods and paying Whole Foods prices for normal shit at Star Market.
posted by threeants at 9:52 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Is Market Basket a union shop?

No it is not.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:55 AM on July 21


Looks like they're getting hit hard at the old store
posted by davros42 at 9:58 AM on July 21


The weird thing about rising produce prices is it's starting to make Whole Foods look better and better. A few years ago I never would have even considered WF as an option, but if my choice is between a shrivelly-ass conventional garlic head from China for $5.19/lb at Star and organic garlic for $5.29/lb at Whole Foods, the latter starts to look a lot more tempting. At my last trip to Star Market, organic and conventional oranges were both, inexplicably, $1.99/lb.
posted by threeants at 10:03 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Also, wtf Trader Joe's? I'd love to shop there but all their locations north of the river make me feel like they don't want my business unless I have a car. Mark my words, they would make bank if they put in a store somewhere actually walkable in Cambridge or Somerville.
posted by threeants at 10:06 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


affordable grocery options

I'd rather eat a catfood sandwich than set foot in a Shaw's. I'll shop for dairy and certain meats at Whole Foods, but most of my grocery shopping is done at Ming's Market.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:07 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The Demoulas saga is an embarrassment of rich, privileged people on both sides who don't care very much about the collateral damage of their petty squabblings. I can understand the inclination to feel solidarity with the employees, to assume that outsiders have "no reason to doubt them," but I'd gently suggest—speaking as someone whose family spent a lot of years working in Market Basket stores in MA and NH—the employees aren't more financially or business savvy than any other group of supermarket employees, and it's worth considering whether their loyalty may have less to do with one cousin being right and more to do with it being relatively easy to mobilize interested parties as pawns.

There's no question Market Basket has been a solid business. The motivation behind many of those decisions, though, is relevant to the discussion of whether it will continue to be a solid business. There are indeed indications that if Arthur T. remains ousted, the business will suffer. But there aren't many indications that if Arthur S. were to cave in, give up, and walk away, the business would continue as well as it has. The "best course" for Market Basket seems to be if it's kept under control of Arthur T. and under threat from Arthur S. That's not sustainable.

And if Market Basket goes away, affordable groceries aren't suddenly going to disappear. What is likely is that they'll be provided instead by non-local chains. That is due in part to the steerage of Market Basket to cut off its local competition. I'd question the ethics of fighting quite so hard to keep competitors out of an important space that you can't possibly maintain. Most people agree when we're talking about Walmart, but switch to Market Basket and it's suddenly Arthur T., JFK, and Jesus.
posted by cribcage at 10:07 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I'd rather eat a catfood sandwich than set foot in a Shaw's. I'll shop for dairy and certain meats at Whole Foods, but most of my grocery shopping is done at Ming's Market.

Shaw's at Porter is like a siren luring me to its devastating rocks with its 24-hourness and occasional ridiculous loss leaders like $1 tallboys of Goya coconut water. I find myself there because of the convenience and then walk out with pretty much nothing because I can't afford Fage at $8.99 or a rotting frond of cilantro for 3 bucks.
posted by threeants at 10:16 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


We were talking about this at the meetup this weekend! I agree with threeants that prices around here at "conventional" stores are confusingly high in relation to Whole Foods. I used to get PeaPod but the quality and price were both bad.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:35 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


There were posters of Arthur T. done in the Obama "Hope" style pasted up all over the store.

I would love to get my hands on one of those, or even settle for a good picture. Is anyone nearby?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:57 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


threeants - FWIW, from Porter you can hop on the 77 and it will take you about a block short of the Arlington TJ's. You'll still ahve to walk/bus, but at least it won't involve switching lines.
posted by maryr at 11:09 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Thanks, I didn't even know there was one in Arlington!
posted by threeants at 11:11 AM on July 21


It's way up in Arlington Heights, but it's on Mass Ave.
posted by maryr at 11:13 AM on July 21


wenestvedt - I found this photo of one of the posters on Twitter: http://pic.twitter.com/okby1EhAuy
posted by dweingart at 11:14 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Love it, thank you, dweingart!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:28 AM on July 21


It's funny - I write for a local glossy monthly business magazine. For a recent story on a 3-block section of downtown that is about to undergo a serious "renaissance", my editor asked me to interview the CEO of a local family-owned stationary and photocopy shop - Staples had just closed down across the street, so it was pretty topical to hear their side of things.

This stationary chain is one of those local success stories. It's family-owned and hs been around forever, outliving even some of the big chains (Office Depot pulled out of downtown a few years ago, and now Staples).

So the editor asked me to contact the CEO, a well-known guy here in town.

And then I discovered that he was gone, replaced by some hard-ass from back East, who has a built a career on turning around struggling retail operations.

And he declined an interview. It's crazy. The company is a major advertiser in the business mag, and this was his chance to get in front of thousands of business people who might buy stuff from the chain of stores.

And he turned me down, and talking to hi it was evident that he totally does not "get" the laid-back and very collegial business culture in our town (businesses here, no matter how big, like to support other local businesses if it makes sense).

I wondered what family politics in this business had led to the decision to hire this asshole.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:34 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


And if Market Basket goes away, affordable groceries aren't suddenly going to disappear. What is likely is that they'll be provided instead by non-local chains.

I'd love to think that's true, but unless Market Basket has an incredible strangehold on getting more for your dollar, I'm not sure it is. When Star Market got bought out by Shaw's, the prices started going higher and higher. Prices remained so high that now that Shaw's has been bought out, many locations are returning to the Star Market name, because everyone associates the name "Shaw's" with expensive groceries. When Johnnie's Foodmaster got bought out (because they were shitty, carpeted, and not all that much cheaper than Shaw's) they got bought out by Whole Foods of all places. That certainly didn't drive grocery prices down any. I like Hannafords - they have better house brands than Shaw's and slightly better produce - but they seem only slightly less expensive than Shaw's but I'd need a car to get to any. That leaves Stop and Shop (which might as well be Shaw's, IMHO), Target and Trader Joe's (neither of which are really a full grocery store), and Family Dollar, which is a true discount grocery store, with all the attendant sketchy canned goods.

Part of the reason you see this loyalty to Market Basket is because they have kept prices cheaper than the other "middle class" grocery stores while not becoming a discount shop. There is little to no stigma for being a Market Basket shopper (unlike Family Dollar, for example). I love shopping at Market Basket in Somerville the same way I love the Somerville not-quite-the-4th of July fireworks: Everyone is there. The Davis Square grad students. The older residents of Winter Hill. The young couples from Spring Hill. (Funny how that works...) The East Somerville families. The West Somerville families. I have heard running 6 year olds yelled at in Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Hindi, Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, and probably multiple dialects of Chinese, but I can't differentiate those by ear. It is by far the most multi-ethnic, inter-class place I know in Boston.

Market Basket has found a niche where all of those people feel comfortable shopping there, elbowing their way around each other in aisles that are a little to narrow and laced with sawdust. Everyone feels they are getting a bargain, whether it's in the form of fresh produce, deli meats, frozen food, 3 cases of soda and 2 24-packs of toilet paper, or an entire grocery cart full of meat. Shaw's, even though it's more convenient and closer to public transportation, doesn't feel that way.

I know I'm being weirdly passionate about a grocery store. I know a lot of people avoid Market Basket for the exact reason I love it - it's often overcrowded and chaotic. I know there are probably other things I could do to get this experience (move to another neighborhood, eat in different restaurants, take the Orange Line). But at Market Basket I get to have that while I buy my groceries. And I get to buy a lot of groceries. The consistently low(er) prices have won them customers from all the corners of this economically and culturally diverse city I live in. If MB raises prices, that will change. There are Shaw's and Whole Foods and Stop And Shops in more conveniently locations. No one takes a bus to buy Campbell's soup at full price. As much as I love my local store and all its goofy seasonal decor and grocer's apostrophe's, in the end, I'm a regular customer because I get More For My Dollar.

All that said, I still won't eat the Market Basket sushi.
posted by maryr at 11:53 AM on July 21 [25 favorites]


Market Basket sushi is $14 for 8 pieces of sashimi tuna and salmon and it's my weekly treat. I do all my shopping crap, saving HUGE amounts of money even before the additional 4% discount, then I stop at the sushi counter and the man and woman who work there always look up and say, "Hello!" like they're so darned happy to see me.

And the woman asks if I want the tuna or salmon and then goes back and slices the sashimi fresh.

It's great sushi. And the Greek salads and my kids say the chicken salad is insane and their bakery rivals Mike's in the North End for pure sweet sugar rushes.

Also, the $3.00 GIGANTIC homemade veggie sub with mountains of vegetables and cheese and olive oil and vinegar and hot peppers...

I hope they resolve this soon.
posted by kinetic at 12:32 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I know a lot of people avoid Market Basket for the exact reason I love it - it's often overcrowded and chaotic.

I have the oddest love and hate with the place. I hate the crowds, particularly the epidemic of rude fuckers who can't be bothered to move their cart to the side while browsing. I hate the music. I hate the Soviet-style lines at checkout.

That said, I can't understand why MB is so much cheaper than their competitors. Stop N' Shop doesn't appear to have better labor practices. Shaw's facilities aren't nice enough to justify prices 175% of MB. All the major chains are large enough to have the same advantages in supply.

That leads me to the conclusion that Market Basket is somehow being square with customers while their competitors are trying to sucker them into paying too much. That may be a shallow observation, but it's how I perceive it emotionally.

That perception of respectful treatment is powerful for building loyalty-- over the years, there have been a few lean weeks where my cash on hand wouldn't have filled my family's pantry at Stop N' Shop. On those weeks, I left Market Basket wishing it was an entity that I could kiss full on the lips.

You couldn't get me to shop anywhere else. If I had buckets of cash, you'd still find me at Market Basket every Sunday (Except yesterday)-- because I like to be treated squarely. I hope this is resolved by next week so that MB and I can continue our contentious relationship.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:39 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


kinetic - Ah, in Somerville, the sushi sits flaccidly preprepared in a very open case at the end of the dairy aisle. Very unattractive. I really like the roasted carrot salad they have in the same case though.
posted by maryr at 1:02 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I love the Somerville Market Basket when it's busy because you get to play shopping cart chariot races against ruthless, well-practiced grandmas who have been cutting people off from the outside around that freezer case since before you were born.
posted by Spatch at 1:39 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


I know there are probably other things I could do to get this experience (move to another neighborhood, eat in different restaurants, take the Orange Line).

These are options the typical Market Basket customer doesn't have. Your experience is definitely interesting, particularly your comment about stigma; but it's not representative, especially your comment about stigma. No surprise that with MetaFilter's demographic we're seeing a lot of comments about Somerville, but Somerville is hardly Market Basket's (sorry, gotta do it) bread and butter.
posted by cribcage at 1:56 PM on July 21


in Somerville,
the sushi sits flaccidly
preprepared in a very open case
at the end of the dairy aisle




Even maryr's complaints about Market Basket are poetic in their own way.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:57 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


this is just to say

I have eaten
the sushi
that was in
the open case

and which
you were probably
never
going to touch

Forgive me
it was so flaccid
and I got
more for my dollar
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:09 PM on July 21 [14 favorites]


Deep down in my greedy little soul, I'm hoping this somehow results in more Wegmans.
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:36 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


i use the market basket in keene,nh and the store is clean and wellstaffed
posted by fittipaldi at 6:20 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Deep down in my greedy little soul, I'm hoping this somehow results in more Wegmans.

Lou Stuells: Wegman's is an invasive species, like zebra mussels and snakehead fish. If you shop there, you'll develop a Western New York accent and a fondness for the Buffalo Bills.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:19 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Pretty soon there will be a store serving spiedies and W-Pop in Union Square...this injustice must never come to pass!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 7:58 PM on July 21


The whole Market Basket thing has exposed a deep split in the Boston area between those who have been to a Market Basket and those who don't have any near them. For the latter, there's always Roche Bros., which is also owned by a single family, but one that seems to still break bread together - and which, instead of doing things like buying golf courses, pays for a community center and ice rink in one of their main neighborhoods.
posted by adamg at 8:30 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'd forgotten about Roche Bros until @universalhub reminded me earlier - I don't know of one within reasonable T distance.
posted by maryr at 8:51 PM on July 21


That's why Roche Bros is a good point of comparison. There is one location in West Roxbury, just like Market Basket has one in Somerville, but those are outliers. Most of its stores, and customers, are in the suburbs.
posted by cribcage at 8:56 PM on July 21


The Somerville Market Basket gives me so much anxiety I need to prep myself for it hours ahead. But every time I go shopping there, I have some crazy story, usually involving how insane people are in the parking lot (seriously, I'd rather drive around downtown Boston at rush hour on a Friday in summer than navigate that parking lot sometimes), and I love the stories, and the experience, and the idea that I'm supporting something local and helpful and valued in the community. And as much as the deli makes me want to gauge my eyes out some days, I'm still holding out hopes that Market Basket survives this.
posted by danapiper at 8:58 PM on July 21


Wegman's is an invasive species, like zebra mussels and snakehead fish. If you shop there, you'll develop a Western New York accent and a fondness for the Buffalo Bills.

No worries. Even those of us in Western NY can't make ourselves all that fond of the Bills.
posted by tyllwin at 9:48 PM on July 21


Sorry Mayor, I'm a cane toad myself. Northborough Wegs actually has kimmelweck in their bakery: I wept to see it. But there is also some cross-pollination occurring. For the first time, lobster rolls have become available in the Buffalo stores. And they're good ones, not all lettuce, and on the required flat-sided buns. So my mother reports, and she's from Bristol and knows proper.

And Roche Bros. is amazing, I'd love to have one nearby. But the aforementioned Rindge MB is my local, so I should be glad we have a Hannafords too. I underestimated MB when we first moved near one, even the new stores were narrow-aisled and seemed dingy. But they're okay, and their boston cream pie is amazing.
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:40 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I went to the Roche Bros in Natick (I know, I know) once, and I was really unimpressed. It felt like a downscale Whole Foods, but at normal Whole Foods prices. I'd rather go to Stop and Shop.


I just wish Price Chopper would get to Boston. I miss it so.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:57 AM on July 22


Boston is so cute. (I'm a native, I can laugh.)
posted by spitbull at 4:05 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]




Another explanation of the current situation from the linked blog that gave an excellent recap of family history. The contrast between the family feud and worker conditions is fascinating to me:

Back in early 2008, Market Basket’s board votes Arthur T Demoulas in as CEO. He is by all accounts a pretty reasonable guy who is hell-bent on treating his employees like family. Or, better than family, seeing as how the Demoulas family has beaten up and defrauded each other for decades now and OSHA and the Department of Labor aren’t keen on doing that to produce clerks.

...For five years, Arthur T Demoulas, despite his side of the family’s past shady and questionable tactics, is a beloved CEO to his workers. He is described as an affable, friendly, and humble leader. He pays well, employees have good health insurance. Workers trust him and are fervently loyal to him.

posted by casualinference at 6:39 AM on July 22


The overwhelming response of employees who have enjoyed being treated like human beings by their employer is interesting; we don't usually get to see how strongly people in positions like that feel about company leadership because large companies that are known for doing right by their workers (Wegman's, Costco) aren't locked in a decades old family feud that leaves the employees stuck in the middle.

The solidarity of the workers is moving, but I can't imagine that this story really ends well for anybody except Arthur S (who I assume has some kind of ironclad multimillion dollar compensation baked into his contract so that he comes out ahead even if he drives the company into the ground.)
posted by usonian at 6:35 PM on July 22


Pictorial from the Boston Globe explains the family feud, for visual learners.

And a serious question: what would need to happen for this to be considered resolved? Do the co-CEOs (which is silly enough but also Radio Shack sa a model of business excellence?) need to quit? Does the board dismiss them and reinstate Artie T?

How does this get resolved? I hate Stop and Shop and I want my sushi.
posted by kinetic at 5:20 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


In other bad New England grocery store news, Providence's iconic East Side Marketplace was just bought by the corporate owners of Stop and Shop.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:58 AM on July 23


Well, Slap, at least Dave's Marketplace is still going in Rhodey: a small, local chain with good food and not Whole Foods-altitude prices. They sell plenty of organic fruit at my local store, and when we asked for more they responded positively.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:44 AM on July 23






Boston Globe: Is ‘shareholder value’ bad for business?
Experts on the history of business say the Market Basket saga is a window onto something deeper than a power struggle among the Demoulas clan that owns it. They see it as emblematic of a war over the future of the American corporation—what its purpose is, how it should be run, and whom it should be engineered to benefit. They argue that maximizing profit and shareholder value—an approach to running companies that drives investment on Wall Street and serves as the closest thing to modern management gospel—is only one way of defining corporate success, and a fairly new one at that.
posted by frimble at 1:55 AM on August 6




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