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Market Basket opens in city

MANCHESTER — Customers lined up even before the doors opened for Market Basket's 460 Elm St. grand opening Tuesday.

The store let them in early, operations manager David McLean said.

Stephanie Pike of Manchester said she used to go to Market Basket in Nashua, then switched to Hooksett when that store opened. The new downtown Manchester site, she said is about 15 minutes closer to home.

'This will last us for a little while,' the mother of 10-month-twins, Axel and Eva, said of her full-to-the-brim shopping cart.

The new store — which has 500 employees and 21 aisles spread over 90,000 square feet — is the first Market Basket store in Manchester.

President and CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas said at the ribbon-cutting: 'It took us 95 years to get here, but we're here and we're excited.'

'We started in 1917, when Demoulas Supermarkets began,' McLean said.

While the business is still called Demoulas Supermarkets Inc., the Market Basket brand has supplanted the Demoulas name on all its stores. But longtime customers still call it Demoulas, said McLean, who has been with the Tewksbury, Mass.-based chain for 36 years.

'We are just humbled by the turnout,' he said. 'We thank our customers very much.'

He expected 5,000 to 6,000 customers for the day.

It is Market Baskets's 65th store overall and 28th in New Hampshire. Two more are planned to open within two months in Brockton and Sagamore, Mass.

A Market Basket in Bedford at Donald Street and Route 114 continues to progress.

'The pricing structure is documented by independent surveys as being about 20 percent below the average supermarket, some more, some less,' McLean said. 'We were just recognized (by Consumer Reports) as being the top New England chain as far as cleanliness, service, price and perishables,' he said.

Among the longtime customers at Tuesday's opening were Scott and Anna Mugica, now of Manchester, but who met as co-workers at Somerville, Mass., Market Basket, almost three decades ago. Today, their son, Nicholas, 17, is working for the new Market Basket in Manchester.

'We started in Somerville, and Mr. McLean was our manager,' Scott Mugica said. 'We met in 1984,' Anna Mugica said, 'and now the rest is history.'

'I said to him as we pulled in, we waited 10 years for this,' Mrs. Mugica said.

For the grand opening, about 100 vendors and technicians populated the store. Sal's Pizza, a supplier of dough for Market Basket's brick-oven baked pizza, was helping with set-up.

Freshly made salads and fruit cups are prepared on site, McLean said. The sushi bar is run by a vendor, Niji Sushi. The Manchester store has an on-site bakery, butcher shop and a large fresh seafood section. In New Hampshire, the stores offer beer and wine. The Market Basket Cafe has a seating area with WiFi at the front of the store and serves espresso, latte, fresh orange juice and soft serve ice cream.

Store manager Peter Gulezian, who came to Manchester, from Market Basket in Lee, is a 29-year employee.

'The excitement of seeing the look on the customers' faces, how happy they are that we're finally in the city of Manchester and open for their convenience, I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing our customers satisfied,' he said.

Store hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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