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August 09. 2014 9:01PM

Broken trust Market Basket and its customers

We wonder whether the Market Basket board of directors realizes that the company's checkout aisles are empty, its profits dried up, because the customers are boycotting the stores?

Go into any Market Basket in New Hampshire, and employees are there, waiting to serve you. The customers are the ones who have left. Why?

Market Basket employees say they felt like a family when Arthur T. Demoulas was CEO. They say they want him back because he took care of them, like a caring father. Casual customers heard that, it touched them, and to support the employees they stopped coming. Long-time customers were touched in another way.

We see it in the letters we get. The longest, most emotional letters we have received about the drama at Market Basket have come from customers, not employees. They are usually addressed to the Market Basket board of directors.

These customers feel betrayed by a company they supported for years, sometimes decades. To them, Market Basket was a place where they could feel good about shopping. They came to feel like part of the Artie T. family too.

By ousting Arthur T. Demoulas, the Market Basket board has done a lot more than tarnish its brand. Without even knowing it, the board has broken a trust with its long-time customers. If they have to shop at a corporate-run chain supermarket, it is not going to be one that personally betrayed their trust.

We wonder whether Market Basket's board has any idea what it has done to the company.


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