A sign outside of Westford Plaza urges local customers to continue shopping locally.

Westford’s Market Basket Protests Have Had Mixed Impact On Nearby Businesses

Market Basket has lost millions of dollars each day as employees continue their protests for the return of Arthur T. Demoulas, but the impact on businesses near Westford’s two Market Basket locations has been mixed during the protracted struggle.

For the employees themselves, the general boycott of their stores has created a need to obtain food nearby, something they didn’t need before according to Audrey Ducharme, an employee at the Cornerstone store.

The parking lots outside of Westford's Market Basket have seen fewer cars (and shoppers) recently.

The parking lots outside of Westford’s Market Basket have seen fewer cars (and shoppers) recently.

In Ducharme’s eyes, the protests have likely helped nearby businesses somewhat.

“We’ve been eating every day at Panera, Evviva Cucina, other places. Before, we’d just bring in lunches on buy things from inside of Market Basket,” she says.

Ducharme says she’s seen former customers who might have gotten a cheap meal inside of Market Basket also go to nearby restaurants. However, the exodus of customers has not helped all nearby businesses.

Mark DiNardo of Busa Wine and Spirits, which shares a plaza with the Littleton Road Market Basket, says he’s seen business go down 20 percent since the protests began.

Unlike the parking lot in front of Market Basket, the spots in front of Busa are still filled. However, he notes those cars are generally Dunkin’ Donuts customers who stay for shorter periods and aren’t looking to purchase alcohol like the nearby grocery shoppers once did.

“It’s definitely made an impact. A lot of people did their shopping at Market Basket and then came over to us to get liquor. Now they’re going to other stores,” said DiNardo. “I support what they’re doing, nothing like this has ever happened in history, but I hope it ends quickly.”

A sign outside of Westford Plaza urges local customers to continue shopping locally.

A sign outside of Westford Plaza urges local customers to continue shopping locally.

The impact for liquor stores extends across the street to Westford Package at Westford Plaza.

There, store owner Bob Bursey has seen the issue of too much traffic stemming from road construction in front of his store end and the new problem of not enough traffic now that Market Basket customers are no longer appearing with the same regularity.

“A lot of us small business owners rely on the traffic that Market Basket creates. If their customers go out of town to get their groceries, they won’t come here,” he says. Construction wasn’t great, but this is worse.”

And yet, for some businesses near the stores, business has remained comparable to what it once was.

Mayshu Huang-DelBonis of Westford Florist says she’s seen a general slowdown during most summers at Cornerstone, but business still remains steady and is much higher compared to what it was at her old Main Street location.

“People ask how we compete with Market Basket, but the secret is that people come to us for high quality products, so we haven’t really seen any change in traffic,” she says. “Things generally drop off in the summer, but we’re still busy.”