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New Nashua Market Basket draws crowd

Union Leader Correspondent

June 23. 2013 6:55PM
Market Basket's new store on Amherst Street in Nashua has a selection of specialty sections like the counter in the meat department that offers certified Angus beef. 

NASHUA — Just before 6 a.m. on Sunday, customers started lining up at the door for the grand opening of the new Market Basket store on Amherst Street.

By mid-morning, the parking lot at Somerset Plaza was packed as shoppers strolled through the new 84,000-square foot store with new sections, specialty services and countless new products.

"It's great, I love it," said Nashua shopper Karen Lyons as she loaded bags of groceries into the trunk of her car. "But it is a little crowded today."

Market Basket shut down its old 59,000 square foot store at the other end of the plaza and moved into the renovated building that was formerly the home of Sears. The company owns the plaza and has not made any decisions about the old building.

But the newly renovated building allowed the company to design a more spacious, well-lit store that offers customers more options.

"We have a whole new kitchen, café and restaurant," said Bill Mardsen, part of the management team overseeing the opening. "The floral department, the produce department, every department has been enlarged and enhanced. Let's face it, people work all over the world and they want products from all over."

The supermarket chain that opened its first store in Lowell, Mass., in 1917 now has 69 stores throughout New England, 29 of which are in New Hampshire. And many of those stores have either received or are in line for makeovers like the one in Nashua.

"The beauty of the extra space is you can bring in more products, like organic lines and healthier foods," said David Mclean an operations manager who has been with the company for 37 years.

McLean said shoppers are stretching their grocery dollars more than ever before.

"More people are eating at home, and there's a push for healthy and wholesome products that people can cook themselves," he said.

And Mclean said Market Basket has consistently been able to provide those foods at the best prices, according to the latest independent survey of grocery stores.

McClean said the company has been able to maintain its pricing edge on other grocery chains by keeping it simple.

"We don't have any gimmicks, no membership or discount cards, and all our prices are the same in all stores," he said.

The renovated markets and new stores are maintaining the affordable prices but adding a little more excitement to grocery shopping, he said.

"The aisles are wider and the traffic pattern is simple," said McClean. And that allows shoppers to relax a little and look at all the new additions to store shelves.

The new store will employ about 350 people but unlike other grocery chains there won't be any framed photos of managers on the walls near the customer service booth.

"We don't need to do that because our managers are always out on the floor helping customers," said McClean. "What's important for us is great value, variety and customer service."

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