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The Boston Globe


Opinion | TOM KEANE

Family businesses are better survivors

THE DEMOULAS clan is at it again, with name-calling and bad blood spilling into the public realm as the owners of the regional Market Basket supermarket chain gear up for another legal fight. The enterprise had its origin in Lowell in 1916 as a humble store selling fresh lamb. The two sons who bought it from their father in 1954 made it big and profitable. But the death of one in 1971 triggered a war for control and money that persists to this day. One rip-roaring lawsuit in 1994 featured fistfights and the disbarment of two lawyers; now the Demoulases are back in court, expletives and all.

I’m not picking sides. Family feuds are like divorces: Each camp can make its own compelling case for the utter venality of the other. The best course for bystanders is just to get out of the way. But it does make one wonder whether the worlds of commerce and family are just too toxic a mix. Perhaps it would be best to keep the two apart.

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