"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update on a fascinating & inspiring tale ..... Dear Arthur S.

Updated 7/31/14
Dear Board of Directors, Ms. Thorton, Mr. Gooch, the Board of Directors, and yes, Arthur S. 

Apparently you did not read my letter to Arthur S. and that is fine, because apparently you aren't listening to any of your customers former customers. Nor are you paying attention to the news, social media or your customers former customers. 

While Gordon Gekko is probably very proud of your
hardball approach to your employees by allowing them to apply for the jobs of the employees you are going to fire, we, your customers former customers think you are missing the point. 

You should all be very proud of yourselves. You are going to be the topic of case studies in business schools all over the world for years to come! It will be a lesson in how to destroy 52 year old, 3+ billion a year business with a loyal community of customers & loyal employees and turn it into a company hemorrhaging 9+ million dollars a day. 

I don't know who your public relation people are, but instead of firing your employees, I suggest you fire them. When you make statements like this:
“While Mr. Demoulas’ offer provides a path toward solving many of the problems he has helped to create, it is but one alternative among the options the board is reviewing,”
it indicates just how arrogant and out of touch you are. The "problem" Mr. Demoulas helped create is that he created an environment in which his employees felt respected & valued

And those respected & valued employees created a culture in the store that is unlike any other. You never have to look for an employee because they are always on the floor working. You never feel like you are a bother when you ask a question. They know where everything is in the store, whether they work in produce or dairy or mop the floor. But then again the statements from the board members indicate that you haven't actually ever been in a Market Basket

You have become an example of all that has gone wrong in our world. Where the middle class is ignored by big money and our concerns are flicked away as annoyance. But we are taking control back - remember, none of you would have your millions in dividends without your customers. At some point you really should address that. 

Part of your problem is that most of you are not from around here. You don't understand the history and the culture of Market Basket, where the great-grandchildren of your first customers still go faithfully. It is not just about low prices, it is about tradition and community. Not once have you acknowledged your customers except to attempt to hard-line your employees back to work in empty stores #youcantfirecustomerswequit!

I went to another store for my weekly shopping. I hated it and it made me sad. It was way too expensive, there was no selection, not an employee to be found when I couldn't find anything in their convoluted store set-up & confusing sales where you need coupons & courtesy cards to get the advertised prices. But I will keep shopping elsewhere until my Market Basket, the way I have remember it for 40+ years, is open for business. 

There is a lot of craziness going on in the world right now. Children dying in wars they didn't start, people fighting to get their country back, terrorists taking over a country that had but a brief moment of peace, deadly outbreaks that we have no idea how to control. But right here, right now, we the customers are taking a stand. We may lose Market Basket but it is better to have the whole thing close knowing we did the right thing than to allow arrogance and greed change the one thing in this world we could depend on. 

a former customer

Updated: 7/24/14
In response to the worker walk out at Market Basket, former CEO Arthur T. has made an offer to purchase the company. I am astounded and amazed at all the employees who have taken a stand for what they believe in. Contrary to some opinions of the situation, the employees are not only looking out for themselves, but they are looking out for the loyal customers. Some of the business model changes they were hearing about would have changed Market Basket from a low priced family business to an overpriced supermarket chain in line with what happened to Shaw's Market which at one time was also a small, family owned, New England chain. 

Let's hope that the board at Market Basket takes this offer seriously. There are real lives being impacted by this situation, not only the employees, a lot of whom have not gotten paid this week (my oldest son works there so I do have a bit of insight), but also the customers who have had to pay more for groceries (not only because there is no food on the shelves, but because they too want the company to stay the way it is), and the local supply chain, and the communities in which Market Basket normally thrives. 

It became apparent that the new co-CEOs are so out of touch with the history of the company, and the environment in which they are making decisions when they finally made a public statement earlier this week. How can they ask the employees to go back to work and serve the customers, when many of their customers are supporting the workers and even protesting with them. 

I also hope that this situation opens the eyes of other companies (such as Walmart) to the reality that if you treat your employees well, they will be loyal not only to you, but to the company. Some of the people that got fired for their support of the former CEO (Arthur T.) had worked for the company for 30+ years. That is unheard of in this quicker/faster move, move, move business environment we live in. It was the sign of a successful business model built on loyalty and trust - not only for the employees, but also for the customers. It is sad that it was basic greed that destroyed it all. 

So, I hope that the board has listened not only to the employees, but also to the customers and that Friday is in fact the last day of protest so people can get back to work and customers can begin to build their trust in a company they have learned to depend on.


Dear Arthur S.,
I know you got a lot of bad press over the weekend. You have probably been inundated with hate mail and it can't feel great to know that your employees would rather lose their jobs than work for you. All these years of working to get your cousin out of the picture I am sure you thought things would now be a walk in the park. How is that working for you? 

Anyway, I thought you might want to see some positives for your customers that have come out of your really poor business decision making:
  • Usually on Sunday mornings, when I go to Market Basket for my weekly shopping, I have to drive around the parking lot for at least 15 minutes to find a spot. I carefully scan all the rows of cars for reverse lights, stop every few feet for people crossing the parking lot to get into the store until I find someone leaving and then I pounce. Not this week. This week I drove in the lot, found lots of empty spaces, didn't need to stop for any pedestrians and pulled right into a spot up front. You have saved me time.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings I have to keep to the right going down the aisles because there are so many people (most of whom have no idea how to properly maneuver a shopping cart). I have to grab things from the shelves as I pass by so the people behind me don't rear-end my rear-end. Not this week. This week I had the entire aisle to myself most of the time. It was like a calm stroll through the park. You saved me some sanity.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings I have to wait at least 20 minutes in line at the deli. I'll get my number, realize there are 10 numbers ahead of me, and I try and scoot down the nearby aisles to get some stuff while I am waiting - and God forbid I miss my number - then that is another 20 minutes just because I wasn't paying attention. But not this week because there were no lines. Again, a time saver.
  • Usually on Sunday mornings, after I have dealt with waiting for a parking spot, waiting for the deli, taking my life into my own hands avoiding rouge shoppers I have to wait another 20-30 minutes in line at the checkout. I am particularly amused on the Sundays when the carriages have to be turned sideways so that people can maneuver in the front of the store. Have you ever tried to move a sideways shopping cart? But not this week! It was amazing - I took my half-full carriage right to a cashier with no line. There were even checkout counters closed - unheard of before this Sunday! More time saved!
  • And the piece de resistance! Usually on Sundays I spend a couple hundred dollars on my food bill. I know, a lot of it is junk food we really don't need, but it is what it is. This week I spent under a hundred - I guess this is what happens when you have fewer choices and the produce aisle is almost entirely empty! I saved money! 

I know that the 4% off promotion that Arthur T. initiated infuriated you. Really, how dare he dip into your millions of dollars in profit by rewarding your faithful customers for allowing you to receive those millions of dollars in profits - it is anarchy! And how dare anyone treat their employees with respect for all the hard work, dedication and loyalty they have shown to the company, it's insanity! 

I have been shopping at Market Basket since before I could walk - when my Yia-Yia brought me to Demoulas and I hope the board is realizing how amazing you are - really - it takes a special kind of person to destroy a brand that was built over decades on a business model of respect for its customers and employees. I hope the board is standing up and taking notice ... and that they give you exactly what you deserve! 

While I would love to continue to reap all the benefits of the decisions you have made, my conscious will not allow me to do so (that and there really isn't much food left at the stores for me to buy). Until Market Basket is returned to the "family" business I respected and trusted I will need to go elsewhere. Good luck to you Mr. Arthur S. I think you are going to need it.

A former Market Basket customer 


  1. Ouch! Wonderful Leann! Is this an essay in irony? I hadn't heard of Arthur S - so your blog prompted me to Google it and read the whole sorry story out of your local newspaper. Have a good day - and a good shop!

    1. Hello Tony! Irony it is! It is a sad state of affairs. But a fascinating example of workers standing up for themselves - which we don't see enough of these days. The outcome will be interesting to see.

  2. Leann - I have only just caught up with your updates on this one! Go for it girl! Your subtle barbed comments made me smile and although I don't understand all the issues from across the pond I can relate exactly to your feelings. You've also "inspired" me to another blog - not connected in any way with yours except that the issue of supermarkets etc will feature large. On a damp August afternoon here in Nottingham today I shambled along pushing an increasingly full trolley behind my wife as we visited our local ASDA (Wal-Mart) - not my favourite place but convenient. We usually shop at one of the other big UK supermarkets, Sainsbury's, but today it was ASDA. As we wandered I related your blog to my wife as she filled the trolley and thousands of others pushed past us - I just shambled along feeling totally inadequate in this busy, busy place. Thank you for brightening up a miserable day! Have a good weekend and regards to you and yours.