I Plan To Boycott Market Basket: How About You?

2009 12 10_1995

I shop at Market Basket  I am saddened to see it being destroyed. Or better said, it is sad that it has been destroyed. I’ll do my shopping at other stores now but won’t go back there because of the taste that this dispute is leaving in my mouth. I urge other customers to follow suit and stand up for those people who gave us such good service and a fine product.

What happened there is quite unusual in one sense and very expected in another. Unusual because it had a group of employees who were well content, very hospitable, and hard working. They were happy to work for the store and wore badges telling how long they had been there. I’d never been in a more congenial super market.

On top of that the prices of their products were a good percentage below what other super markets charged. The only way to beat them was when another store had a sale. Good prices, friendly employees, and clean stores made it a pleasure to shop there.

From my observations I saw that Market Basket also attracted a lot of lower income hard working people. This was a deliberate plan of the store which located in areas which were accessible to them. Its policy was to make its profit on volume rather than gouging on prices. Those struggling to keep up with the food inflation found a refuge in that store. On my last trip just before the employees went out I bought delicious apples at 99 cents a pound.

It was an extremely successful store. It was run by Arthur T. Demoulas. Note the “T” – that’s the only way to distinguish him from his cousin of the same name, Arthur S. The Demoulas family has been feuding for years. As part of it around twenty years ago a law clerk to a judge was entrapped into a position that became scandalous. Two lawyers, maybe more, working for one side of the family lost their tickets over it because of their shenanigans. I knew two of them. One was a good competent lawyer and a gentleman. I felt really bad for him. The other was one who I never trusted. I was surprised he had not been disbarred much earlier for some of his other actions. More people than we can imagine are drawn into the evil ways of others.

No disputes are as bitter as those in a family. That’s why Market Basket has been destroyed. The other Arthur “S” and his supporters are motivated by only one goal: destroy Arthur “T”. Having taken over control the company they’d rather see it go under or become something other than it has been than to let “T” run it successfully as he has been doing.

You and I, its customers, are given little thought.  Perhaps it is time we spoke up.  It’s time we acted on our own to show that we too have a voice in how things work.

“S” arranged for them to fire his cousin “T”. He put a couple of slow puppets in his place.  One, Jim Gooch,  whose only background in retail sales seems to be his last job at Radio Shack which in my opinion is not only the least consumer friendly store that ever existed it also over charges on everything it sells and which is reportedly running out of money. The other, Felicia Thornton, has a background with Kroger, a supermarket chain, although recently she has been involved in some type of educational project.

I call them slow because they don’t seem to get it. They lack the understanding of what’s going on. They plan to replace the employees who are disgruntled that “T” has been canned. With backgrounds in juggling figures, one a CPA and the other with an MBA, they believe they can also toss employees up in the air willy-nilly and whatever happens will be good. They don’t understand people are not numbers. Ah, the great lack of judgment.

They may hire others but they won’t get what they had; they’ll lose the gold upon which their company was based. These great employees who are working in a mass protest are clamoring for what was  working well – the leadership of “T”. They are fighting for us the customer.

Not being among the filthy rich, it is hard to understand why the rivals are not content with the huge flow of money that fills their pockets. Power, pride and revenge is needed to sate their appetites. As for the loyal employees and customers they are trampled over.

Gooch and company may come up with a new staff but one thing they can’t control is us the customer. They can’t fire us or change our working conditions. They can have all the employees in the world, even the best, but they can’t make us customers shop there. They have destroyed the good will, an important business asset, which will take years to rebuild, if ever it can be done.

I intend not to shop there again unless this matter is resolved in a way that those employees who want to keep a good thing going for us the customer are reinstated. I urge others to do the same thing. It is time for the customer to have a say in these matters. We should also have a vote on the board. Not getting one then we will vote with our feet and our pocket books. We’ll stop going to Market Basket.

8 thoughts on “I Plan To Boycott Market Basket: How About You?

  1. I suspect that if it was not family, but instead different blocks of investors represented on a board of directors firing a CEO because of the CEO’s non-performance in achieving an expected level of sales volume and profitability, then there would not be enough drama to warrant all of this coverage. Do not confuse this corporation with a farmer’s market cooperative.

    Perhaps if Arthur T. charged $1.25 instead of $0.99 per pound for apples, you still would have bought the apples and he would still have a job? Purchasing the apples and other products or not from a particular vendor is your vote. Continuing to work for an organization is also another vote.

    Whether this store chain continues intact, is absorbed by others, or just goes Chapter 7 bankruptcy with liquidation of assets, life will go on. Other competitors will step in to meet the demand as they already have, perhaps at a higher cost to the consumer in price and convenience. The irony of all this is that I do not see the long term advantage and a positive outcome for the owners, employees and customers here.

    1. Ed:

      I expect the stores are achieving their expected level of performance. Arthur lost his job when his cousin who has the particular dislike a family feud can engender took control of the board of directors. It had nothing to do with the profit the company was making.

      True life will go on whether the stores continue as they have been, change or fold. You are right the primary casualties will be the workers and the shoppers. I got a gut feeling it will turn out fine and I’ll be back there but doubts arise when I see one of the CEO’s worked at Radio Shack and did nothing to change that culture which is horrid.

  2. I’m not convinced the new guys will change much. Other than some hiccups things will be back to normal. Including most of the great benefits.
    Isn’t it funny all these people willing to walk away from job have 30 40 years at the place.
    These people are all set.
    So many questions bf I believe Arthur T I’d the good Arthur.

    1. Ernie:

      Have you ever been to a Radio Shack? One of the new CEOs worked there for years. If that is his training ground then Market Basket is going down the drain. I’m not sure any of the Arthurs is a good guy. All I can go on is that the poor employees have staked their careers on him so at least from their point of view he is worth fighting for. The non unionized employees fighting together like they did is hard to imagine in any other industry where it is usually dog eat dog so it tell alot about Arthur T.

        1. Ed:

          That’s the problem when CPA’s take over leadership positions. All they do is think of the balance sheet. They look at the figures and think they can improve them by increasing prices. I went in a Radio Shack looking for a battery. I found it but it was charging $10.95 for it. A little to pricey for me so I passed. A day or so late I was in Walmart. I could buy two of the same batteries for $4.99; they were out of the packages of one for $2.89.

          That battery in Radio Shack was priced as if there were no competition. The CEO of Market Basket was recently with Radio Shack. I’d think that would be the last guy I’d put in charge of my company.

  3. Unfortunately people will flood the aisles of Market Basket as soon as it is fully operational again. Low prices seem to supersede ones ” principles ” or better judgement, and Walmart is a perfect example of that. It seems from what I’ve experienced that no matter how a place is run or appears to the eye that people will shop there as long as prices are lower than surrounding competitors and products are somewhat in stock semi consistantly just to save a few dollars.

    1. Craig:

      That’s the history of things as shown by Walmart – maybe you will be right. After all, Market Basket’s great growth was in part based on its low prices. But the CEO from Radio Shack will try to push the prices up – he’s a balance sheet guy. He’ll think like the Red Sox owners that the people will come no matter the price. If he sticks to what made Market Basket what it was probably most of the customers will come back; but if he doesn’t, he’ll find out there is no Market Basket Nation.

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