Last Friday, Angela Gibelli of Conant Street woke up and decided to take a trip to Tewksbury.
The life-long Market Basket shopper was so taken by the entire Market Basket fight, and the resolve of employees and ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, that she decided she had to go and see the popular chief (once again) of the company.
In the end, Demoulas and his executives were so taken by Gibelli that not only did they take time to see her, but also they told her she would be front and center during the ribbon cutting at the long-awaited Revere store.
“I had been watching everything on the news about it Thursday and said that if I felt good I was going to drive up there,” said Gibelli, 82. “I got myself ready Friday morning and drove right up to Tewksbury. I didn’t know where the headquarters was at, so I stopped and asked a State Trooper. He showed me and it wasn’t too hard to get there. I just walked into the offices and said, ‘I’d like to speak to Artie T.’ They told me he was in a meeting and it might take quite a while. I told them that I had all day to wait, but I had to leave before dark because I don’t drive at night.”
In the end, the entire office was delighted by Gibelli – who is quite a character – and Artie T. did come out and see her and visited with her for some time.
“I just had to tell him something,” she said. “I had seen in him something that is so important – perseverance. It’s something that I’ve always had in me. I tell my grandson, who is 13, if someone tells you that you can’t do something, tell them you can and then persevere until you do it. I told Artie T. I saw that in him. He was so excited that I came that he said I could cut the ribbon on the new Revere store when it opens.”
And that’s the major question on everyone’s mind in Revere now that the company’s year-long struggles – which climaxed this summer – seem to have ended. So far, there have been no commitments, but Demoulas said late last week that he plans to open the vacant and stalled stores – such as in Revere – before the end of the year.
Mayor Dan Rizzo said he is excited to see the store finally get some life, as it has been sitting empty since last September when the company announced that it wouldn’t be opening.
“I am obviously thrilled that Market Basket is now back on track and feel very optimistic that Mr. Demoulas and his board of directors will now be able to move forward with the promise they made to Revere well over 18 months ago; that is providing Revere residents with a real choice with respect to their weekly grocery shopping and to put 400 people to work,” Rizzo said this week. “It was very encouraging to me to see how much passion and enthusiasm Market Basket’s existing employees had for jobs and I believe it bodes well for future Revere residents who choose to pursue employment here at their Northgate location.”
After weeks of intense negotiations and store shelves all but empty in most locations – including the Chelsea store – the deadlock ended last Thursday morning with a public announcement.
The announcement came from Arthur T. Demoulas and it indicated that the Class B Shareholders of the company had bought the remaining 50.5 percent interest in the company from the Class A shareholders. Demoulas and his allies owned the Class B shares.
There was no official word as to what the Class B shareholders paid, but the Boston Globe reported that it was a $1.5 billion buyout.
“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” read Thursday’s official announcement. “He and his management team will return to Market Basket during the interim period while the transaction to purchase the Company is completed. The current Co-CEO’s will remain in place pending the closing, which is expected to occur in the next several months. All Associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the Company back to normal operations. The shareholders and the Company would like to thank Market Basket customers and partners for their strong support through the years. Our shared goal is to return Market Basket to the supermarket that its customers have come to rely on for service, quality and best prices. We look forward to seeing you at your local Market Basket.”
One of those dedicated customers is Revere’s Gibelli – who shares a Greek heritage with Demoulas.
She said she told Artie T. that she was loyal and that she didn’t stock up at other grocery stores during the conflict.
“I’m in walking distance from a Stop & Shop, but I told him I was waiting for him to open back up,” said Gibelli. “I only bought two bananas down there. That’s it. I was in another store and the pita bread was $2.29 and Artie T. had it for 99 cents. I told him that. I told him that’s why everyone is waiting for Market Basket to open in Revere. He said it’s coming, but he didn’t say just when.”
Sure enough, when it does, Gibelli will be front and center with everybody’s new friend – Arthur T. Demoulas.