The Battle of Market Basket

by Bill Brenner on July 22, 2014

Several people have asked what I think of the Market Basket drama, including the boycotts and empty shelves as employees fight for the reinstatement of recently canned CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Here’s my answer.

Mood music:

Many people worry about what will become of a supermarket chain that, up to this point, has been the cheapest on the block. If this chain goes bye-bye, a lot of people in financial distress worry they’ll have more trouble putting food on the table.

I’ve never been a fan of Market Basket. I hate the narrow, cluttered aisles and find the quality of their produce and meats substandard. Other supermarkets are way too expensive, especially the likes of Shaws and Whole Foods. We shop at Hannaford, which has decent quality and more reasonable prices than Shaws, in our opinion.

But that’s a personal choice. While Market Basket isn’t my cup of tea, I’m glad it’s around. For one thing, competition is good. For another, I have friends and family who rely on Market Basket’s lower prices, and they are genuinely frightened.

Do I support the workers who are rebelling, trying to get their old CEO his job back? Yes and no.

I certainly respect them and admire them for standing up for what they believe in. There are so few family companies left that invest in employees that it’s hard to disagree when some dedicated employees are willing to stick their necks out to preserve something important.

On the other hand, they are not the owners and, fair or not, the owners can do whatever they see fit, as long as they operate within the law.

The big action items fall to customers.

If you’re a customer and the chain starts to jack up prices and make it harder for you to feed your family, you can speak with your dollars. In this case, if they change their ways, don’t give them your money.

If enough people act, someone will leap in to fill the void and offer the cheaper option customers don’t feel they’re getting from Market Basket any longer.

I hope it doesn’t come to that and that sanity prevails.

To those fighting the good fight, I wish you the best of luck.

market basket store in ashland

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