There’s this weird, crazy thing happening in Massachusetts right now. It has to do with a discount supermarket chain, a 10-year-long feud between dueling cousins, and a standoff between the upper management and the store level workers.
I, personally, am not a Market Basket person. I am not from Massachusetts, so I didn’t grow up with it or have the nostalgic connection that the lifelong residents do, but I have visited my share of Market Baskets. There was one across the street from Kettle, and I went there for veggie wraps for lunch, which cost me $2.59 and weighed about 4 lbs each.
It was always mobbed. Always. More on the weeks that government assistance checks came out. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, the checkout lines extended down every aisle to the back of the store, and they set up pop-up check out lanes on rolling carts in the entry way. There were so many people that it was impossible to get to the items on the shelves. On the day of the blizzard, Nemo, the parking lot was filled to capacity 19 minutes before the store even opened. I remember because my office window was on the second floor and overlooked the Market Basket plaza.
Now, all of the Market Baskets are empty, not just of people, but also of any kind of food that doesn’t come in a can. The produce, deli, and bakery sections are bare.
This is what happened: There’s Arthur T. and Arthur S. Demoulas. They are cousins, but they’ve been in legal battles for the past 10 years. Arthur T. had been the CEO of Market Basket for decades, but he was fired a couple of weeks ago. The people who work at the stores were furious and demanded that he be reinstated. They planned a protest at the headquarters, but the current Market Basket bigwigs issued a letter saying, essentially, that anyone who protested would be fired.
People still protested. As promised, they got fired. More people protested the workers getting fired. Those people got fired. Everyone from the people running the cash registers to the delivery drivers to the managers.
Now there is strong public support for the workers. Even local politicians are getting in on it. There is a rally of a few thousand people happening at one location right now. They are bussing in supporters, and there is no one left to manage, stock, or work at the stores. The exceptionally stubborn upper management is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every day, partially from boycotting, but also because there is nothing left in the stores to sell.
I don’t know anything about the feud between the Demoulas cousins, but I’m pretty excited that these store level workers are organizing, and making a difference.
The latest development is that Arthur T. has offered to buy out the shares that he doesn’t already own. If upper management accepts the offer, the workers will have gotten what they want.
Which would be pretty amazing.
There is a long history of sly shenanigans in this family-run business. Many years ago, all the stores were named “Demoulas.” There was a dispute in the family (possibly a divorce) and someone was granted a share of the profits from every Demoulas grocery store.
From that point forward, every new store was named “Market Basket.” Gradually, the Demoulas stores were changed to Market Baskets. The last Demoulas, in Salem New Hampshire, was changed to Market Basket in 2010.
I know this particular store well. I lived five miles away from it for decades. It is in a strip mall close to the Massachusetts border. In the very next strip mall there has been a Market Basket for as long as I can remember. It seems they built it there to sap money away from the Demoulas store from which the company was required to share profit. Now they have two Market Baskets side-by-side.
When Demoulas and Market Basket were next-door neighbors, you had to know they were owned by the same company to get how fucked up it was.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officers arrested Sacramento resident Freddie Alexander Smoke III on Friday on felony charges of recklessly starting a fire and illegal marijuana cultivation, CAL FIRE spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
Exhaust from a truck Smoke drove around the cultivation site in the remote community of Igo is expected to have ignited a patch of dry grass on Friday afternoon, Berlant said.
Some 180 marijuana plants were seized from the pot farm after the fire started, Berlant said. He did not know if the fire had burned down the grow operation.
Smoke from a pot grower named Smoke sparked up the trees, but not his “trees”?