Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Market Basket workers posted their thanks Thursday to customers at the Somerville grocery store. (Photo: Charles Teague)

Market Basket workers posted their thanks Thursday to customers at the Somerville grocery store. (Photo: Charles Teague)

The summer-long standoff has ended at Market Basket with a happy ending. Employees walked out and customers boycotted when the company forced out beloved leader Arthur T. Demoulas on June 23, but now he’s back – he bought out the rival member of the family who engineered his ouster.

Employees weren’t just loyal to Demoulas; they worried that his firing was the beginning of changes at the store, including lower wages and benefits and new policies that would hurt quality and customers.

This is an amazing story, and if it were a movie it would end right now, with employees cheering and customers walking back in the doors today to shop. But in real life, Demoulas now has to pay back the $1.5 billion it cost to get back in charge, and some are wondering if the customers who left will return to help him recoup the investment.

Market Basket will be fine. Demoulas knows he has a winning formula, and his investors must be confident of it as well. So long as he returns the stores to being run as they were – with good products (especially produce) at low prices – there is every reason for customers to start thronging the aisles again. Customers who boycotted, as opposed to those who simply were turned away because stores were closed or shelves empty, have even more reason to return: They now feel ownership in Market Basket. This is their victory as well as one for the employees and Demoulas.

This is also a great time for newcomers to the area to go experience Market Basket, at 400 Somerville Ave., Somerville, near Union Square. It will be insane, as the store and its parking lot are nearly always packed solid and hard to navigate, but the prices, pleasant, efficient longtime workers and quality will be worth it for most. (Remember to switch aisles at the rear of the store, away from the checkouts. It will save you time and frustration, since checkout lanes are fast-moving but long.)

But these aren’t just groceries you’ll be buying. Every dollar you spend at Market Basket is a statement about loyalty, perseverance and wanting the good guys to win. In an age where politicians fight raising the minimum wage and labor unions and collective bargaining have been demonized and whittled away, the Market Basket story is exciting proof of what can be accomplished when people stand together for best practices.