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Farmers markets, local stores benefit from Market Basket shortages

  • Myrna Camp of Contoocook picks out heirloom tomatoes at the Lewis Farm booth at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "I am sad about Market Basket," said Camp, who shops at the supermarket's Warner location in addition to regular visits to the farmers' market. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)

    Myrna Camp of Contoocook picks out heirloom tomatoes at the Lewis Farm booth at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "I am sad about Market Basket," said Camp, who shops at the supermarket's Warner location in addition to regular visits to the farmers' market. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)

  • David Hammond, 15, left, completes a transaction at the Lewis Farm booth for Kathie Palfy of Concord, standing with Nathan Palfy, 10, and Angela Palfy, 7, at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "We like the fresh stuff," said Palfy, who is a regular Concord Farmers' Market visitor. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)

    David Hammond, 15, left, completes a transaction at the Lewis Farm booth for Kathie Palfy of Concord, standing with Nathan Palfy, 10, and Angela Palfy, 7, at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "We like the fresh stuff," said Palfy, who is a regular Concord Farmers' Market visitor. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)

  • Myrna Camp of Contoocook picks out heirloom tomatoes at the Lewis Farm booth at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "I am sad about Market Basket," said Camp, who shops at the supermarket's Warner location in addition to regular visits to the farmers' market. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)
  • David Hammond, 15, left, completes a transaction at the Lewis Farm booth for Kathie Palfy of Concord, standing with Nathan Palfy, 10, and Angela Palfy, 7, at the Steeplegate Farmers' Market in Concord on July 24, 2014. "We like the fresh stuff," said Palfy, who is a regular Concord Farmers' Market visitor. (WILL PARSON/Monitor staff)

Whether motivated by zeal for Arthur T. Demoulas or just plain desperation, Market Basket shoppers are increasingly turning to farmers markets, independent stores and competing chains as the prolonged dispute drags on.

Stacey Cooper, an employee at the Yankee Farmer’s Market store in Warner, said the store sold out its vegetable stock Sunday and has been working to keep up with demand ever since. The outdoor market on Main Street in Warner this week also drew “the most people we’d ever seen,” she said.

“In Warner, this is a really big deal. There’s a Market Basket to shop at, and that’s pretty much it for supermarkets,” she said. “You’d have to drive 25 or 30 minutes to get to another major store. At the farmers market, people were definitely stopping by just to find something for dinner, and many people said they were there mainly because they couldn’t get what they needed at Market Basket.”

Jane Lang, president of the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association, said she expects the increase in farmers market customers to continue through the weekend. She said the timing is good for the farmers too since most are just entering their peak harvest period.

“We really like the idea of people who have never been to a farmers market now taking the opportunity to get there because they don’t have their go-to produce option,” she said. “We’re hoping that now, maybe once people get to their local farmers market for the first time, they’ll decide to set aside some of their food budget for the market each week and make us part of their routine.”

At the Steeplegate Mall market, Concord Farmers Market President Wayne Hall said the ongoing Market Basket situation “definitely hasn’t hurt us,” as he sold vegetables to a steady stream of customers at the Lewis Farm stand.

“It’s given us farmers a little peak,” he said. “Customers still have choices at Shaw’s or Hannaford, and there’s very good produce there. . . . But for the farmers markets, once our customers come here, they’re customers for life.”

Spokespeople from both Shaw’s and Hannaford corporate offices said they would not comment on their competition, but Shaw’s public affairs manager Jeffery Gulko said his chain’s stores have “definitely seen an increase in customers” this week.

“I would say the real noticeable increase probably came Monday morning,” Gulko said. “We continue to regard this as a situation where it’s our job to have the products that our customers, whoever is coming through our doors, are looking for.”

He said, initially, stores saw higher sales in produce and meat products, but it has evened out “across the board” to include other items since then.

Tony Heath, owner of Quality Cash Market in Concord, said his store has had “good traffic” this week, which he attributed partially to former Market Basket shoppers looking for other retail options. Quality Cash sells grocery, bakery, meat and deli products, and he said meat sales especially increased.

Cooper said if nothing else, she hoped the empty shelves at Market Basket would provide a wake-up call to customers about vulnerabilities in the supermarket system.

“Consumers need to realize that there should be more resilience in the system, and we would all benefit by relying more on locally produced items,” she said. “Fresh food does not come from the grocery store; it comes from the farms. I’m hoping this whole thing is enough to at least change the buying habits of some consumers and have them learn more about the system, because it’s not always going to be a given that the shelves will be stocked. That doesn’t happen automatically.”

(Ann Marie Jakubowski can be reached at 369-3302 or ajakubowski@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @AMJakubowski.)

Related

Ex-Market Basket boss wants to buy company

Friday, July 25, 2014

The former chief executive of the Market Basket supermarket chain whose ouster has led to employee protests, customer boycotts and empty shelves wants to buy the entire company. Arthur T. Demoulas said in a statement Wednesday that he and his side of the family want to buy the 50.5 percent of the company now controlled by relatives who backed his … 1

the employees can tell people anything they want...but they don't have the right to tell the owners what to do...end of, what should have been a none story! Once again let's toss class warfare in the mix. really folks...leave this family alone. they have the right to make their decisions without a bunch of crazy employees running around spouting off like they own the company.

Either way the employees are screwed in the long run. The ship has sailed on every industry in the US. Employees are paid what the market will bear. I am sorry for those employees who expected lifetime employment but that ship sailed 30 years ago. The tantrum the MB employees have thrown may sow the seeds of the companies demise, even if their "Artie" comes back.

Seeing a lot of sailing ships this morning, aren't you, Laurie? Any of them Cutty Sark? Where did you ever get the idea that employees are paid what the market will bear? Talk about your 86 proof BS. More than in recent history, today's employees are paid as little as possible. That's why the MB throng is so upset about the ousting of Artie T. He paid them a fair wage. Have another one, Laurie. Just don't drive anywhere.

What the market will bear? You mean a market where a thumb is on the scale tipping the balance in favor of low wages, short-term profits, outsourcing, and exorbitant executive pay. For more than 4 decades we've been guided by neo-liberal economic policies: "free-trade" policies that gave us NAFTA, technology transfers and out-sourcing, immigration policies that flooded the market with cheap labor, anti-labor policies that made it impossible to organize workers, rampant nepotism on corporate boards that produced inflated executive pay and stock options. We took the wrong path with the "Reagan Revolution", blaming government when the real problem was disinvestment in new technology--a problem that has only gotten worse. The U.S. machine tools and steel industry both began to decline in the 60's, followed closely thereafter by Detroit. We failed to keep up with foreign competition, but instead of choosing to fight and catch up--we gave up. This policy (the lack of an industrial policy) was abetted by Cold War technology transfers to what became the Asian tigers--Taiwan and S. Korea. The end result, coupled with endless rounds of tax cuts that limit the ability of the central government to invest in infrastructure, and make the tax structure less progressive (re-distributing upward instead of down), is our present decline. It was no accident; instead it's the result of over 3 decades of short-sighted policies that have redounded to the benefit of a small elite. Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound" is both the loss of the middle class, and whatever pretensions to true democracy we once had, in favor of an emerging oligarch--the 0.01%.

Brucies entire platform for life can be seen reproduced in a concise manner here. http://cpusa.org/party-program/. readers are welcome to comment on where his screed is different

Laurie, either way they may be screwed in the long run so why not try and fight the corporate machine and save their integrity. I stand behind the employees. Fight the good fight

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