I wanted to share something pretty incredible that has happened in New Hampshire over the past six weeks regarding a small NH/MA grocery chain called Market Basket. I am no expert on the details, so I will summarize only to my understanding of the story.
Market Basket is where us limited income people shop. It’s not fancy, not in the slightest. The aisles are crowded and sometimes there’s a little bit of a smell. (old spilt milk?) Every month it’s crazy busy the days that Social Security checks come out and food stamps get issued because it has much cheaper prices than the other two local chains. It’s where I shop, and I’ve grown to like it. Everyone is there for the same reason (we can’t afford a luxury market,) so I find that people are rather helpful and considerate when it comes to shopping cart traffic jams, etc.
The original CEO of Market Basket was pushed out earlier this summer by a greedy cousin who, rumor has it, wanted to sell the business off. Apparently this cousin has been increasing his market share and hounding the CEO for keeping such low prices for the customers and treating employees half decently. Six weeks ago, when the cousin booted the beloved CEO, the staff went on strike. Like a top-down strike. Administrators at HQ, truck drivers, etc. Then the individual store managers did something wild, they asked customers to boycott their own stores. They even had on-the-clock staff stand out front with “Please Don’t Shop Here Signs.” And so NH stopped shopping at Market Basket. We shopped at the more expensive stores, which hurt our own budgets. But we stuck with it because we figured those employees were going to lose their jobs anyway, so we might as well stick it to the greedy cousin as he tries to sell it. Some customers even went out and picketed with the staff. My dad would take my little niece there once a week during the strike and as he would reassure the picketers, they would come”just to visit” the workers, who he reported to me were cleaning the store like crazy because there wasn’t much else to do.
And then this week, something incredible happened. The strike worked. The Board of Directors enabled the CEO to buy off the greedy cousin and keep control of the company he loves. Everyone keeps their jobs and we will once again be able to afford our groceries again. I brought balloons by the store today (now full of “Welcome Back!” posters) and I noticed the employee I handed them to had on his name tag that he had worked there for 26 years. I got so choked up my congratulatory message got stuck in my throat. These were some brave people. Brave managers and brave workers. And this time the brave and decent folks won the battle.
I want to be brave. I want my blog and my ever-evolving little book to mean something genuine with a sometimes raw edge to it. Because illness isn’t pleasant and the mental toil it takes on its victims can be worse. I want to jar people a bit so that they avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced, and I want to provide solutions that may not even work for you but will at least get your mind to brainstorm your own creative solutions. And maybe my dream will transpire, and maybe not. But I sure can take a lesson from those $9.00/hour workers standing outside in the pouring rain and 90′ heat day after day for 6 weeks with their homemade signs asking us to NOT shop at their store because they felt the company’s purpose was being grossly neglected. Congratulations Market Basket. We’ll see you tomorrow morning not just to visit, but with our fixed income budgeted lists and some very big, very genuine smiles.