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August 12. 2013 12:35PM

Shoppers have their say online, in the street

The news that Shaw's and Stop & Shop will close 12 supermarkets in New Hampshire before the end of September may have surprised some consumers. Not longtime shopper Richard Corriveau of Manchester.

Corriveau"I'm not surprised at all," said Corriveau. "Market Basket's got it figured out. When it opened down on Elm Street ... even the items that Hannaford's no longer carries, Market Basket has them. The selection they have, the quality of the items ... they just can't keep up with them. I've been shopping with them for years."
CORRIVEAU

Last Tuesday, Stop & Shop announced it would close all six of its New Hampshire stores by Sept. 21, along with three affiliated gas stations. That followed an announcement late last month that Shaw's supermarkets will close a half-dozen New Hampshire locations, along with stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, by Sept. 2.

At the same time, Market Basket has been expanding in the Granite State, where it now operates 30 stores.

"Since Market Basket showed up, two major competitors are closing their local stores," said David Hebert of Manchester. "Stop & Shop and Shaw's, they killed us in this area for years with their overpricing. I feel bad for the employees, but not for the companies themselves. You got what you deserved. We save an incredible $60 a week at Market Basket."

Unionleader.com survey

Results of a poll last week at Unionleader.com show a majority of respondents agree with Hebert. The survey received 521 responses from Wednesday to Saturday, with not all respondents answering all of the questions.

Asked where they did most of their shopping, 58.4 percent, or 225 people, said Market Basket; 27.3 percent, 105 respondents, said Hannaford; 5.5 percent said they shop most often at Shaw's (21 of the total) and 4.9 percent, or 19 people, said Stop & Shop. The question was not answered by 136 respondents.

In response to the question, "Which grocery alternative offers the lowest routine pricing?" 367 participants, or 70.8 percent, said Market Basket. Hannaford was second, at 15.8 percent (82 votes), with Walmart a distant third at 7.9 percent (41 votes). Stop & Shop and Shaw's placed fourth and fifth, at 2,3 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Market Basket was also the top response to the questions, "Which grocery alternative offers you the most convenient location?" "Which grocery alternative provides the best sales and promotions?" and "Which grocery alternative provides the most comprehensive selection for one-stop shopping?" Hannaford finished second on all three questions.

Several customers quizzed last week outside the Stop & Shop store on South Willow Street said what they'll miss most about the store isn't the food, it's the fuel. Stop & Shop offers a rewards program through which participating customers can save 10 cents per gallon of gas for every 100 points they earn. One point is earned for every dollar spent with a Stop & Shop card.

Yvonne Turgeon"The only place this is going to affect us is at the gas pump," Don Turgeon of Manchester said as he and his wife, Yvonne, left the South Willow Street Stop & Shop last week. "We do come here, but it's usually for the gas program. We shop all around, go to all the stores, looking for the deals, so this won't affect us too much. There will just be less places to check for sales."
Don Turgeon
YVONNE TURGEON DON TURGEON

"Yes, I'm going to miss it," said Carol Lafave of Londonderry. "I'll miss the gas program more than anything. I'll look at the flier and see what's on sale, but I usually go for the gas points, either here or on Valley Street."

Question: At what store do you grocery shop and why?

We asked some for their favorite places to shop. Here are their answers:

Lieber"At Demoulas (Market Basket), for cost. I would go to Hannaford as well for convenience and location from here," said Kristen Lieber of Kittery, Maine, who works in Portsmouth. "Trader Joe's sometimes, too, for the diversity of the products."
LIEBER- - - - - -

"We go to the Market Basket. Probably the first reason is location and the second reason is they are one of the cheaper grocery stores in the area," Ken Coleman of Merrimack said. "We have noticed since the economy got a little tough how busy that Market Basket has gotten." He added that many friends from North Merrimack travel to the southern part of the city, past other grocery stores, to get to the Market Basket near his home because of the low prices.Coleman
- - - - - -COLEMAN

Morgan"Market Basket, all the way," Andy Morgan of Portsmouth of said. Not only was he a former employee, but he said the prices are low and fair. "Pretty much the reason I go is the prices."
MORGAN- - - - - -

Rylie Harrod, 23, of Tempe, Ariz., said her parents reside in Somersworth and most often shop at the Hannaford grocery store in Dover. "It's convenient. It's closest to our house," Harrod said. When in Arizona, Harrod said she does most of her grocery shopping at Target. "It is the closest thing and relatively cheap, but not the biggest fresh produce selection."Harrod
- - - - - -HARROD

WaitkinsMatt Waitkins of Peterborough: "I generally shop at Roy's Market or Nature's Green Grocer -- and farmers' markets this time of the year -- and the reason's because they are local. I cannot send my money to a distant profit center," he said.
WAITKINS- - - - - -

Steven Taitague of Jaffrey: "I shop at Market Basket. ... I don't comparison shop. .. It's cause I don't drive and the people that drive me shop there. But also of people shop there because of the prices," he said.Taitague
- - - - - -TAITAGUE

GauthierBill Gauthier of Plymouth said he is a regular shopper of the Hannaford's store in his town. He shops there because it is local and the prices aren't bad, he said. But, Gauthier said once in awhile his wife will make a trip to the Market Basket store in Tilton because the prices are better, he said. He is looking forward to the day when Market Basket opens a store in Plymouth. Market Basket is currently in the permitting process for a store the company plans to build in Plymouth. "We like the Hannford's, but it will be great when we have a Market Basket," he said. "Right now we'll make the trip to Tilton on a weekend sometimes. It costs us $20 in gas, but the prices are really good."
GAUTHIER- - - - - -

Wendy Getchell-Lacey of Gilford said she and her family used to shop at Shaw's store in Milford before they moved to Gilford a few years ago. Now they shop at the Shaw's store in Gilford. Neither the Milford or Gilford Shaw's stores are being closed. "Thank god," she said. "I have been shopping at Shaw's for years, it would be terrible if they closed (the Gilford store)." Getchell-Lacey said Shaw's has better meats and produce, and the specials at the stores make prices cheaper. "I wouldn't shop anywhere else," she said.Getchell
- - - - - -GETCHELL-LACEY

KennersonWanda Kennerson of Meredith says she travels south to the Shaw's store in Gilford rather than shopping at her town's only supermarket, a Hannaford's store. "The prices are better at Shaw's," she said. "You get more bargains there, I just like it better there. I'm glad they didn't close it."
KENNERSON- - - - - -

Bill Sheldon of Jaffrey "Basically my wife does all the shopping and she basically likes Demoula's. That's where she started shopping and it seems to be cheaper," he said.Sheldon
- - - - - -SHELDON

Reactions vary

Customers approached by a reporter last week as they left the Shaw's and Stop & Shop locations on South Willow Street said they don't expect the closures to affect their shopping habits too much, given the other options available to them in the region.

"I'm not really loyal to whatever name is on the building," said Judy Echtman of Wakefield. "Wherever I see the lowest numbers ring up at the register, that's where I'll go back to again. I'm looking for deals."

"It's like anything else. You've got to be a good shopper and look for sales," said Paul LeClerc of Manchester.

"I love Shaw's, I do most of my shopping here, but I will go to Hannaford for the things that are cheaper there," said Susan Roman of Alton. "It is convenient that both stores are across from each other."

"I shop mostly at Hannaford because it's down the road for me, but if we need to do a major shopping trip, we often go to Market Basket because it's cheaper," said Lori Ingham of Franklin. "The Tilton Walmart is turning into a Super Walmart, so we will have to see if our shopping habits change after the construction is done."

"I firmly believe that if the economy were as good today as it was five years ago, we wouldn't be having this discussion," said Chris Van Veen of Brookline. "Trickle-up poverty is playing into the hands of Walmart and Market Basket at the expense of the others."

Some employees expressed anger over the decision to shutter their workplaces.

"It took us all by surprise," said Wendy, an employee at the Stop & Shop on South Willow Street in Manchester, who asked that her last name not be used. "The employees found out the same time the public found out, basically. I've been working here about 10½ years. I just came from Market Basket, but they're not hiring."

Randall T. Sundeen, 45, of Manchester has worked at the South Willow Street location the past four years.

Sundeen"I'm partially disabled, and I had a terrible time getting a job," said Sundeen. "This company took me in, I gave them four years of my life, and I regard the people here as family. What makes me mad is we have real poor planning in the city. Now the city's going to have three empty supermarkets. They want to build a Walmart Supercenter on Gold Street. I'm all for making money, I'm all for making jobs, but we need defensible development. Businesses are dropping out on the city left and right."
SUNDEEN- - - - - - -

pfeely@unionleader.com


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