Merchants: Market Basket boycott 'hurting everybody'
LOWELL, Mass. -- Restaurants, liquor stores and other shops that have long relied on people deciding to grab dinner, a bottle of wine or run other errands while getting groceries at Market Basket have found themselves also seeing their sales dive during the grocery boycott over the past month.
That collateral damage has especially hit places like Busa Wine & Spirits on Littleton Road in Westford, a few storefronts down from the older of the town's two Market Baskets. Business has been down 20 percent to 30 percent, assistant manager Mark Dinardo said.
"It's hurting everybody," he said.
That includes places like the Papa Gino's next door. The pizzeria's delivery service remains steady, but at one point on Sunday afternoon, the restaurant didn't have a single table occupied.
At the same time, the plaza's Market Basket didn't have a single car parked outside its doors.
"It's been affecting us really bad," said Christopher Adams, a shift supervisor.
He and co-worker Justin Ford knew the ins and outs of the Demoulas family feud that has paralyzed the chain, and said they hope it comes to an end quickly.
As they spoke, a father picking up pizza with his son said they stopped into the plaza's Market Basket just to see how quiet it was. But they explained to the Market Basket workers that they were there only out of curiosity, he said, wanting to make it clear they wouldn't buy anything.
"It's a nightmare," Ford said.
Another storefront down, Julian Spanos knew the nightmare all too well. The Chelmsford resident had been working each Sunday at the Chelmsford Market Basket to supplement his work at the Westford Radio Shack, which also happens to be the chain that current Market Basket co-CEO Jim Gooch -- one of the two people who replaced Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO in June, thus sparking the employee revolt -- is most known for formerly heading.
"There's definitely been a drop," Spanos said of Radio Shack's business in Westford.
Of the Market Basket standoff, he added, "It's insane.
It's completely baffling to me."
Market Basket front-office staff and store managers have estimated that stores have lost 90 percent or more of their business on average in the past month as customers have stayed away in droves.
The boycott has been largely attributed to customers siding with Market Basket employees fighting to get their old boss back. Market Basket's new executives have said they need to fully stock stores again in order for customers to return.
Market Basket's board of directors has said it has agreed on an unspecified price for Arthur T. to buy the company. But they remain at odds over other facets of a deal, which Arthur T. has described as "onerous."
Some businesses at Cornerstone Square in Westford are also feeling the squeeze as the development's anchor sits mostly empty. Premier Cleaners and Westford Wine & Spirits, which both rely on shoppers multitasking while making a trip to the plaza, both said they've seen sharp drops in business.
The same was reported at Treble Cove Plaza in Billerica, where one of the town's three Market Basket stores is located. Business has been down 10 percent to 15 percent at 7 Nana Japanese Steakhouse, manager Mai Kanok said. Supercuts also reported a noticeable but not major drop in business as people, particularly toward the start of the boycott, seemed to stay away from the plaza entirely, an employee said.
At Lincoln Liquors, business has slowly begun picking up after that initial sharp drop, employee Sarah Morrison said. The store has decided to no longer buy lemons at the plaza's Market Basket, she said, making the same decision to stay away that has cost the grocery chain millions of dollars a day.
"It hurts the whole plaza," manager Victor Andrade said.
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