Nashua Market Basket employee: 'Worth every day of work lost'
Auburn resident Joe Whelan is the director for the Nashua store off the Daniel Webster Highway. He said he was glued to his television Wednesday night, waiting for the announcement that Arthur T.’s reported $1.5 billion offer to buy out rival family members from the privately owned supermarket chain was accepted.
Whelan said a delivery truck was sitting outside the store waiting for the associates first thing Thursday morning.
“He is someone who puts people before profits,” said Whelan. “Mr. D. gave us that secret to life, and now everything is paying forward.”
“We’re looking at 12-hours days for at least two weeks,” said Branco, who wasn’t complaining.
And the stream of ultimatums and statements that kept coming out of Market Basket headquarters didn’t help.
Branco checked in at the Andover warehouse Thursday morning and came away breathing huge sighs of relief.
Branco said all the workers from temporary agencies had cleared out and the regular crews were back on the job.
“I was right next to him but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him personally,” said Branco. “He was being smothered by media.”
“This began to have almost a cult following,” said Lemieux, who was continually being greeted by customers who shook his hand, congratulated him and told him he had been in their prayers.
At the new Salem Market Basket, associate Lee Adams was in the parking lot collecting shopping carts, something he hasn’t had to do for much of the summer.
For a lot of Market Basket customers, Thursday was like a homecoming. By mid-morning, store parking lots that have been empty weeks were filling up again.
Like most loyal customers, Young was relieved to be back in a familiar store, among familiar faces.
Betty Sell of Auburn was also back behind a shopping cart in the Londonderry store Thursday morning.
“What they did was as great as what our grandparents achieved back in their day,” she said.
“I think the managers were shocked that everyone stood up,” he said. “I think they showed there’s a lot of power and strength when you’re standing together.”
Her husband, Phil, who is now retired but put 40 years into the grocery industry with another company, was loading grocery bags into their car.
For weeks, Market Basket associates like Brian Fiorenza, a meat cutter for the Nashua store, stood in the hot sun picketing their individual stores. The signs and protesters triggered a lot of noise from drivers who leaned on their horns as they passed by to show their support.
Fiorenza and Meat Department Manager Dan Martell were back inside the store Thursday putting together an order for the warehouse, and they were both thrilled to be filling out order forms.
“This really was an effort of everyone,” he said.
And customers, who opted to shop at other supermarket chains are returning with renewed appreciation for Market Basket’s range of products and its pricing.
“I went to other stores, but I felt like a fish out of water,” she said.
“It was horrible, we couldn’t get our favorite cheese,” laughed Chidester as she held up a block of Market Basket cheddar.
“Maybe this will be a bridge for the cousins, and a learning experience for everyone,” she said. “Both sides of the family have kids, and those kids deserve to know one another, and where they come from.”
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