While demand for their products has diminished over the past 5 weeks, Market Basket vendors are openly announcing that they won’t deliver to the dysfunctional grocery chain anymore. WGBH Radio’s Anne Mostue has been covering the story and explains how business is getting personal.
The Market Basket in Burlington has an almost apocalyptic feel. A lone shopper with a cart, empty bakery shelves, unihabited cases intended for meat and fish. The produce stands are bare, with one exception – dried fruit.
Paul Hatziiliades imports food from Greece and sells it to Market Basket. Well, he used to.
“Market Basket was my first major supermarket customer so I started with olives, Greek olives. Greek imported Feta cheese, sheep’s milk feta cheese, Olympiana cheese. I do some olive spreads.”
His company, Extra Virgin Foods, has an office two miles from the Burlington Market Basket. And Hatziiliades has stopped selling to Market Basket to support Arthur T. Demoulas and managers who were fired along with him.
“They’re probably the best in the business. I see other folks in this business, not to take away anything from other supermarket chains but these guys are a little bit different. They negotiate very hard, they demand absolute best prices but they treat you with respect, they treat you like a person.”
Hatziiliades says his company has lost about $200,000 in the last five weeks. His products have either been stored in the warehouse or expired on the shelf. He says he’s still selling to other stores, but Market Basket was about 60 percent of his business. And he’s taking it personally.
“There is a connection, and they’ve always supported the Greek community. They try to work with Greek suppliers. They always have, when it comes to Greek suppliers, the best quality at the best price point. A lot of the Greek community shops there. Unfortunately it’s all too common a story – a Greek family business feuding.”
And the feuding continues, as the Demoulas family negotiates the future of the grocery chain behind closed doors.