The main uncertainty is whether customers who have loyally supported the employee-led boycott will loyally return when the boycott ends, assuming Market Basket as we knew it survives.
"I'm a Market Basket shopper and I'm going back, looking forward to them reopening. But I'm sure there are people who have discovered 'They have this at Hannafords that I like,' or they get used to the store's layout ... and they won't go back."
It's also unclear whether Market Basket's reputation for low prices, largely credited to its management practices over the past two decades, will survive after the financing and operational changes required by a buyout.
If the purchase goes forward, it will saddle the previously debt-free company with new costs.
"It's now going to have debt, which is going to change the operation," said
Just getting the stores back up to full speed if a deal is reached will be hard. A modern grocery store contains many thousands of items provided by scores of different vendors making deliveries at all hours, and several major vendors have stopped doing business with Market Basket during this five-week showdown, citing erroneous bills and other issues. Replacing them quickly will be hard.
"Customers are going to come back and some of the shelves are still going to be empty," Schmidt said. "It is going to take weeks to get all of the produce and meat and dairy back on the shelves. They're starting at zero, and some distributors have moved on. The question is whether (customers) will accept that."
"I've been reading minutes of the board meeting, and he likes not answering to anybody. Now he's going to have to answer to his creditors," Schmidt said. "He's not used to having to deal with that."
Draper, while agreeing that "I don't know how the management is going to shake out," said family spats don't have to be fatal to a business.
"Often this happens, where one family member buys out the other person and goes on to run the company quite successfully. I can think of three or four in my experience where it has worked out OK," she said.
She acknowledged, however, that the Demoulas situation is unusually large and fraught.
"It's phenomenal -- I'm getting calls from all around the country. Everybody knows about it," she said.
"But am I surprised that it's taking this long to negotiate a deal? Absolutely not. Think of all that's involved, attorneys on both sides, and everybody's represented."
"These deals take a long time even when people are in good relationships, and for smaller businesses. You don't put this paperwork together overnight," she said.
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