Demonstration turned to celebration rather than protest after Market Basket’s ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas regained control of the company.
The company faced more than two months of protests from workers and boycotts from customers demanding that Demoulas be reinstated. The dispute led to bare shelves and little business for the supermarket chain.
Arthur T. Demoulas and the company's board of directors announced late Wednesday that an agreement had been reached for him to buy 50.5 percent of the company for $1.5 billion. Hours later, the once and future CEO showed up at company headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, on Thursday morning to address a large crowd of supporters.
"I've always believed that we are born into this world at a certain time and a certain place to be with certain people for a reason and a purpose," he said. "Everyone has a destiny and because of you I stand here with a renewed vigor and a sense of purpose.
"May we always remember this past summer, first as a time where our collective values of loyalty, courage and kindness for one another really prevailed, and in that process we just happened to save our company."
Speaking to the media afterward, Demoulas said it could take a couple of weeks to get the stores up and running like they were six weeks ago.
"We hope it will be less than that," he said. "We welcome everybody back and can't wait to see them all."
Already on Thursday, Market Basket parking lots across New England that had been nearly empty for weeks were starting to see more cars.
"We were all high-fiving in there, laughing and congratulating everybody," customer Tina Melange said. "We've got the biggest smiles on our faces."
Some of the store shelves are still empty, but employees were working Thursday to get them filled again. The store manager at the Tewksbury, Massachusetts Market Basket said he expects shelves to be filled by the end of the weekend.
"People are bringing in champagne bottles," Mike Riley, the store manager, said. "Customers are bringing in balloons and donuts and food. It's great. It's a great feeling."