If Arthur T. Demoulas succeeds in buying out the Arthur S. side of the family — petty squabbles might still cause a deal to unravel — the debate will begin: Who won? Maybe Arthur T., now firmly in control. Possibly Arthur S. and his kin, graced with far more money than before making the demands that precipitated this crisis. Perhaps both sides of this embarrassing and now besmirched family are losers. Or, perhaps, with the benefit of good PR firms, both emerge winners.
It’ll take a while to sort out the family dynamics, but if and when the standoff is finally over, the real winners should be seen as Market Basket’s employees — “associates’’ in the company’s nomenclature — and, to a lesser but still significant degree, the customers who supported their calls for a boycott. They made this happen, and did so despite threats to workers’ livelihoods, stern lectures that they should simply give up and get back to working and shopping, and risks that their tactics might backfire, destroying the business they said they loved.