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the story behind the book

Conventional wisdom upended: ‘We Are Market Basket’

david wilson for the boston globe/Globe Freelance

Grant Welker is a reporter at the Lowell Sun. Daniel Korschun is a professor of marketing at Drexel University. Both found themselves fascinated by the story of Market Basket, the Massachusetts-based grocery chain that became front-page news in the summer of 2014, when massive protests erupted over the ouster of beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

“I was drawn to it,” said Korschun, whose scholarly work focuses on corporate responsibility, “because it was clear that the reason people were bringing so much support to Arthur T. was because of the responsible business practices that he espouses.” The story of Market Basket’s success, he believes, “challenges the conventional wisdom on how businesses are run.”

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“It’s such a fascinating and unique story,” added Welker. “The company is a cult favorite with customers and employees — people end up staying for their whole careers.” Once consumers joined the protest, a movement was born.

“It’s hard to imagine many companies where the customers felt so strongly about the company’s culture that they’re willing to go out of their way, boycott the stores, pay more to shop elsewhere,” Welker said.

The result of Welker and Korschun’s interest was their book “We Are Market Basket: The Story of an Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business,” published this month.

By joining forces, Korschun said, the authors were able to accomplish their two goals: to faithfully document what happened, and to mine the Market Basket tale for useful lessons. “My students are completely blown away by the story,” Korschun said. “It really changes the way people think. That’s very rewarding for me as a teacher.”

For Welker, the Market Basket story is about a community pulling together and sacrificing to accomplish something. As one man he interviewed reminded him, “We waited 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series, we can hold out for a summer to get Arthur T. back.” He added, “If there’s one quality you can put on New Englanders, it’s that we’re kind of stubborn.”

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Korschun and Welker will read Monday at 7 p.m. at Porter Square Books in Cambridge.


Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.