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August 09. 2014 10:36PM

Waiting game costs Market Basket millions


Andrew Masson of Boscawen, left, and Bill Hand of Danville prepare for a cookout Saturday outside Market Basket in Hooksett. The cookout is for workers, especially for part-timers being idled starting Sunday. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT - Business was so slow at Market Basket off Interstate 93 on Saturday morning that the 385-space parking lot that normally would be nearly full contained exactly six cars.

Business was so slow that this store's sales were down nearly 98 percent - or almost $1.2 million for the week, according to Store Director Ray Castles.

"It's as if the doors are closed," Castles said.

Business was so slow that full-time worker Rachel Spada of Auburn clocked in for two hours Saturday morning, did what duties she could overseeing bread inventories and clocked out to join co-workers picketing outside the store. She will only get paid for those two hours worked.

Business was so slow because of a successful customer boycott that vendors won't deliver any more bread or rolls.

"They'd be losing more (money) stocking ..., so it's not worth vendors coming in," said Spada, who held a sign with a Twitter hashtag, #SaveTheBreadGal.

Business was so slow that none of the 297 part-time workers will get any scheduled hours this week. On Sunday, only full-timers will fill a total of 80 hours for the day compared to 1,400 hours on a normal Sunday, the store's busiest day of the week.

"I think what they did by cutting all those hours only made the boycott stronger," Castles said.

Business was so slow that Saturday was the last day that part-timer Colette Sampson will report to work because store directors had to cut hours to better match payroll to sales. The approximate 20-hour-a-week worker applied for unemployment Friday and will mark her third year anniversary at Market Basket this week by not working a single hour.

"We're all hoping things will be rectified soon," said Sampson, now suffering through her fifth layoff (one with a mortgage company and three church-related ones).

Sampson has no savings and typically chips in with two others to share housing expenses.

"Pray real hard and hope they get it settled real quickly," said the Manchester woman.. Business was so slow that the store ran only one open cash register, rather than more than a dozen, to handle customers, including Kenny McGarr of Allenstown."We're faithful customers," he said. The store's uncrowded aisles felt "different," said McGarr, who also planned to shop at BJ's Wholesale Club.

Business was so slow that Alyssa Douglas of Epsom was finishing her last day with scheduled hours and won't be able to save enough to pay her share of a tuition payment due Friday at Southern New Hampshire University.

"It's what puts me through college," said Douglas, a junior.

She said she "lost a lot of money already" with her hours gradually getting cut in recent weeks and counted on working at Market Basket during the school year to help with college expenses.

Business was so slow that the store's 33 full-timers, who normally work 43 hours plus potentially another six hours overtime a week, will be cut to 40 hours this week.

Business was so slow that managers chipped in to throw a barbecue Saturday for the idled part-timers. (At the Hudson Market Basket, part-time workers planned to camp in the store parking lot Saturday night, calling it "Occupy Market Basket.")

Business was so slow that even people needing a nicotine fix might soon need to go elsewhere. "Even cigarettes, we can't get a delivery," Castles said.The store Friday did receive a quarter of the items it had ordered on Aug. 2 that normally would have arrived last Tuesday, Castles said."Most everything in the warehouse is out of stock evidentially," he said.

Business was so slow that the store is receiving milk deliveries, but "the problem is no one is here to buy it, so you end up throwing it away, which is so sad," Castles said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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