I grew up in the Merrimack Valley, birthplace of Market Basket. I lived in a neighborhood among several working class Greek families. They were good, hardworking families. Our groceries came from DeMoulas Supermarket, which was located in Central Plaza in Haverhill.
As I got older, many of my schoolmates went to work at DeMoulas as baggers and stockers. They wore shirts and ties to work under their aprons. They worked. They were expected to work. The DeMoulas family was a hardworking Greek family.
I also remember another local family business, Benedetti's Deli. They were (and still are) the home of the "rocket," a huge and very reasonably priced grinder. The rockets were (and still are) made on fresh rolls that were baked across the street at Fantini Bakery.
I grew up and went away to school. While in school, and for a few years after, I lived in western Massachusetts. Somewhere along the line, DeMoulas became Market Basket. I lived outside of the area served by Market Basket. I was in Stop & Shop and Big Y territory.
About 12 years ago, I moved north to Vermont. Upon settling in, I discovered a pleasant surprise just across the Connecticut River, in Claremont, N.H. Market Basket. I moved far from my home, but a piece of home was right there, 20 minutes away.
This had to be the outermost Market Basket. I make the drive to Market Basket and pass a Shaw's, a WalMart Supercenter, and a Hannaford along the way.
One day, while shopping at Market Basket, I discovered another pleasant surprise. Fantini grinder and bulkie rolls. A quality, local product that was far and away less expensive than any of its competitors. Home again, sawdust and all.
I remember hearing about battles within the DeMoulas family all along, but never paid much attention to it. Business does that to families sometimes.
When rank-and-file employees who can't afford not to work walk out, that says something. Why and how could an unorganized group of people form such a solid front in opposition to anything?
Social media? No, not social media. That will help me rant and rave about things if I choose to. That will help employees vent about something they consider a raw deal. Social media doesn't get you off the couch to stand out and hold signs when it's 90 degrees outside. Social media doesn't get you to drive out of your way to shop at a competitor because you support those employees. It helps spread the idea, but it doesn't get you out there.
A man and his principles get you out there to hold signs and drive out of your way and pay more for your groceries. We don't part easily with our money and spare time. A man, Arthur T. DeMoulas, and his principles inspire us to do that. A man who treats his employees as more than just employees. A man who gives his employees a stake in what they do. A man who truly values his employees and inspires loyalty does that.
It's not just a grocery store. I can't wait to go back.