Janet Cormier loves Market Basket. I am not afraid to let the world know it.
I brag about Market Basket prices the way sports fans brag about their teams’ stats. I admit I didn’t become a Market Basket convert until 8 years ago, and I only shop at the Somerville store. But I have spoken to shoppers at other store locations and you know what? We sound like the members for some teen heart throb’s fan club. A friend and I plan our Market Basket trips a week ahead. Our journey involves crossing a bridge, battling traffic, and breaking out in prayers to St. Anthony to find a parking space. No matter how early we arrive, the parking lot is full and the store is packed. We are convinced some shoppers camp out in the lot overnight. But that’s all part of the Market Basket shopping experience.
Once inside, it’s like shopping in the UN. The mix of products reflects the diversity of the staff and customers. Shopping at Market Basket is a family affair. It is not unusual to see 3 generations of one family traveling through the aisles. And the workers are experts at multitasking…stocking shelves, wheeling out products, and still remain ready to help customers as well as each other.
Market Basket’s success is in part due to the product prices. But don’t under estimate the value and power of Market Basket’s culture. Culture is elusive, it is like air. But over the past weeks we have witnessed Market Basket’s unique workplace culture. It is reflected in the unity among workers and customers as well as the bond between the workers and their ousted President, Arthur T. Demoulas. When was the last time you heard about workers and management uniting to protect their company president?
I support the workers and DeMoulas. His business model is humane and meets the bottom line. We are struggling in crazy economic times: companies sacrificing workers for profits and despite the “official” count, unemployment is still rampant. Many people struggle to put food on their tables. And don’t be fooled, this may be 2014, but the tradition of ‘gated communities’ is not dead. The subtle manipulation of housing and food costs are effective strategies for keeping the gate locked.
For me, a victory for the Market Basket staff and Anthony T’ is a victory for us. And isn’t it time that we the people win!
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot. Her column appears weekly on Oddball Magazine.