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Shirley Leung

How to save Market Basket: Go and shop there

The produce and meat aisles may be barren, but there are still plenty of bargains at Market Basket -- and no lines.

Shirley Leung/Globe Staff

The produce and meat aisles may be barren, but there are still plenty of bargains at Market Basket -- and no lines.

Want to save Market Basket? Go and shop there.

There’s not much produce or meat, but you can easily fill your cart with other staples: bread, yogurt, cereal, and peanut butter, to name a few of the many items still in stock.

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Many customers have stayed away in solidarity with employees who have been protesting the ouster of their beloved boss, Arthur T. Demoulas. These workers have vowed not to return unless “Good Arthur” comes back, too.

It has been more than three weeks of turmoil, with no end in sight. We, the 2 million customers of Market Basket, are a powerful force — perhaps the most powerful of all. The chain has bled tens of millions of dollars as we have taken our shopping lists elsewhere.

Come back, because it’s no longer about taking sides — Arthur T. versus Arthur S.This is about preserving jobs and rescuing a local business. Most of all, it is about saving the Demoulases from themselves.

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We’ve been riveted by the actions of the company’s 25,000 employees. These nonunion workers put their livelihoods at risk when they walked off their jobs, believing they could save the company by saving Artie T. It’s something we all wish we could do when we’re having a bad day at work. We want to believe little guys can rise up.

It worked. Everyone got the message loud and clear. Market Basket’s success is tied to Artie T., and he must come back. But customers can’t wait until a deal is made, because it’s becoming increasingly clear the Demoulases are incapable of doing the right thing.

Instead, family factions are locked in a decades-long feud, unable to see the stalemate is destroying a company.

Two governors have weighed in, imploring the family to settle its differences as thousands of workers are set to lose their jobs this week because revenues have plummeted. To gain back control of the 71-store chain, Arthur T. has offered to buy out rival cousin Arthur S., but negotiations have stalled. The latest in the war of words came Monday from independent board directors with a statement titled “NO MORE HOSTAGES: DAY 3.”

The answer seems clear: Sell the company to Artie T. to keep it local. We don’t need a Belgian company, the other serious bidder and the parent of Hannaford, to tell us what to eat.

Perhaps the Demoulases can drag things out, because no matter what happens, they win. Deal or no deal, they are — and will be — millionaires many times over. No worries for them, even as the low-income customers they courted can’t pay their bills because they’re priced out elsewhere.

Market Basket customer Mary Miller, 56, of Lexington, has been smarter than all of us. She has ignored the call for a boycott and continues to shop at the chain she’s favored for a decade.

Last week, she was at the store in Burlington when an employee asked her to sign a petition in favor of Artie T. She refused. The employee explained how the petition could help save Market Basket.

To which Miller replied: “No, me shopping here and spending my money will help you save your stores.”

She’s right, and here’s why: When we shop at Market Basket, food will need to be reordered, and then more employees will be needed to restock shelves. It’s a beautiful thing, supply and demand.

I did my part my Sunday, driving to Brockton to drop $50 on groceries. It was a rather tranquil experience: plenty of parking, aisles to myself, no checkout lines. There was a lone (and polite) protester outside, and “Save ATD” and “Save Market Basket” signs plastered inside.

As for food, there was hardly any produce or fresh meat, but I found plenty of other things to buy. The dairy case was nearly fully stocked with milk, cheese, and yogurt. Freezers brimmed with frozen chicken nuggets and Lean Cuisine. Empty shelves dotted the store amid shelves full of products. You won’t go hungry.

I’m not a regular Market Basket shopper — I would be if there was one closer to me. But I can see why the century-old chain has developed a cult-like following. The prices are jaw-droppingly low: 80 cents for Greek yogurt, $1.89 for a loaf of good bread, $2.49 for a gallon of milk. And on top of that, a 4 percent discount on the entire bill.

So if you want to save Market Basket, buy something. Prices may never be this low again.

Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at shirley.leung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.
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