By RORY SCHULER City officials got a preview of Rhode Island's first Market Basket store on Wednesday morning. The new location at 25 Pace Boulevard, in Bald Hill Commons, officially opens at 7 a.m. Friday. The full-service location boasts 23 lanes of
City officials got a preview of Rhode Island’s first Market Basket store on Wednesday morning. The new location at 25 Pace Boulevard, in Bald Hill Commons, officially opens at 7 a.m. Friday.
The full-service location boasts 23 lanes of checkouts and 50,000 different items on its shelves. Store representatives said all 23 lanes will be staffed and the store will have no automated checkouts.
The company has hired 350 associates to staff the Warwick location. With the latest store opening, the company now runs 85 stores throughout New England, in four states.
The company plans to open another Rhode Island location in Johnston in the next 2-3 months, according to DeMoulas Super Market Inc. Operations Manager, David K. McLean. DeMoulas Super Market Inc. owns the Market Basket chain.
McLean, who attended the ribbon cutting at the new Warwick store on Wednesday, said that Market Basket has been serving Rhode Island residents for many years.
However, prior to the Warwick store opening, shoppers had to cross the state border into Massachusetts to visit a Market Basket.
Now, with an Ocean State presence, McLean said the store has made an effort to incorporate local Rhode Island items like Dell’s Lemonade, Autocrat Coffee Syrup and Iggy’s Clam Shack products on store shelves.
The 89,000 square-foot building contains a bakery, kitchens for preparing full meals, and a place in the store where people can eat purchased meals. The new store’s manager, Kevin Perno, has been with the company for 39 years.
The Market Basket chain has a long history in New England.
Athanasios and Efrosini Demoulas immigrated from Kalambacka, Greece and settled in Lowell, Mass. in 1908.
Familiar with farming and agriculture, Athanasios picked up his past profession in his new homeland, cultivating crops and raising livestock, according to the company website.
The couple opened a small food store near their home and called it “The Acre” (also known as the “Acre-Acropolis”) in 1917.
In 1963, T.A. DeMoulas established the company’s Profit Sharing plan, envisioning a company where the associates would directly benefit from the stores’ success. The program still exists today, an anomaly amid the nation’s primarily corporate-owned supermarket industry.
Over the next few decades, the chain expanded throughout New England.
In 2014, over a turbulent summer packed with picketing and protests, “associates, customers and vendors support a seven-week boycott,” in an effort to keep family management in charge of the company.
In 2017, Market Basket celebrated a century in business.
McLean said Market Basket stores often mean much more than just groceries to the communities that host them.
He said that during power outages, especially in the winter, where whole areas are affected by extended blackouts, Market Basket stores, which have full generator capability, are often the only businesses that stay open.
People have been known to go to their local Market Basket to warm up when the power goes out.
“We’re a little safety net,” McLean said.
Half of the items available at the store are actually perishable foods.
On Wednesday, as McLean took Mayor Frank Picozzi, City Council President Steve McAllister, Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis, Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi, and state Sen. Kendra Anderson, on a tour of the store, many shelves were still empty.
Market Basket takes great pride in providing the freshest possible items, and the store doesn’t officially open until Friday morning.
McLean said the store’s workers replenish the stock on an almost hourly basis.
He said that if for some reason supply sources are cut off, stores can be cleaned out by shoppers within 4 to 8 hours.
Market Basket has taken extra steps to secure contracts with labels like Certified Angus Beef.
The chain had to meet the Angus company’s high standards before the vendor would provide it’s steaks and ground beef.
McLean said all fresh cut fruit is cut on-site; and staff looks to replace freshly cut fruit after just hours.
“Everyone wants safe food,” McLean said.
Market Basket is on the site of a former Sam’s Club, which had been vacant for at least two years.
With reports from John Howell