The Chelsea Collaborative began its turkey drive for Thanksgiving recently and took delivery of several turkeys from Greg and Caryn Antonelli of GTA Company, Inc. Pictured here accepting the turkeys are members of the Collaborative, including Director Gladys Vegan and Sylvia Ramirez.
Wild Turkeys have shown up in the craziest places over the last few years, including on city streets, and that’s due in part to a 35-year effort to restore them to the state. The native species was pushed out by European settlement and industrialization in the mid-1850s. Now, they have come back in a big way and frequently come to city streets or parks.
There aren’t too many comeback stories that begin with the phrase, ‘Gobble, Gobble,’ but the story of the once-prolific wild turkey in Massachusetts certainly begins and ends with just such an utterance.
Though the wild turkey disappeared from Massachusetts for nearly 180 years, the Thanksgiving bird was once everywhere in the state, including throughout Chelsea and neighboring locales.
It was so common in the wild that it is likely the precise reason turkey is served for the Thanksgiving meal. With so many wandering around, it’s likely that the first Thanksgiving took advantage of cooking up the bird because it was so common.
It was also such a common sight that Ben Franklin argued for it to be the national bird instead of the American Bald Eagle – saying it symbolized the early Americas more than anything else.
But by 1850, it was gone from Massachusetts.
“Really, by the early 1850s, it was extricated from the state,” said Wayne Petersen of the Mass Audubon Society. “Because of all the changes brought by coming Europeans with land uses, as well as hunting and targeted removal of them, they just didn’t make it. They were gone for a good long time.”
That said, the wild turkey in the last three or four years has re-established itself and made a complete comeback to Massachusetts – becoming so prevalent that they’ve adapted to not only living in the wild and the suburbs, but can often be found wandering around city streets in very urban environments as well.
It’s a story that Petersen said is fun, amusing and a great example of re-introducing a native bird that had been long-lost.
“It’s great to have them back,” he said. “In most cases, they are entertaining and the worst they can do is cause problems with traffic if they get into trouble on the roads. By and large, most people are mildly amused by them when they see them in the neighborhoods for the first time. I think it’s just a great story. They are indigenous and we have a whole holiday built around the wild turkey…Wild turkeys are to Thanksgiving what Santa Claus is to Christmas. I think it’s great.”
Turkeys didn’t just pop back into Massachusetts out of thin air though.
The effort to restore them began as early as the 1950s. Serious efforts were made to reintroduce them back then, but the varieties brought to the state were usually from the Southern states where they are still prevalent. Unfortunately, those birds could not acclimate to the harsh winters of Massachusetts and didn’t survive. In the 1970s, though, another group of turkeys from the Adirondack region of New York – where they are also very easily found in the wild – were introduced into the western Massachusetts region.
Later, after that group found some success, preservationists introduced them into the Quabbin Reservoir area. That was also successful, and the birds just kept moving further east in greater numbers until now you can find them almost anywhere – sometimes in the craziest places.
“Now you find them all over,” said Petersen. “Over the years, that group took hold in a huge way. It is no longer a surprise to anyone to see them in the suburbs or even in the cities. They have learned to live in close contact with people here and are very safe. Many people enjoy them. Other than being huge, they are quiet and passive. They are not known as being vicious birds.”
Petersen said they get reports all the time of turkeys in the middle of the city, in car lots, sleeping on doorsteps or holding up traffic in a congested business district.
“There are lots of reports of turkeys being turkeys,” he said. “They can hold up traffic and can be a pain if they get hit on Rt. 128 or Rt. 3, but that is spot on about where people are finding them. There is no question we get reports of them being in very odd places.”
Beyond the fun of the new and surprising sights of turkeys back in the communities where they haven’t been for 180 years or more, there is also the serious subject of brining a native species back to where it belongs – somewhat like the Bald Eagle’s success story.
“The wild turkey in Massachusetts is just another great argument for restoration efforts,” he said. “They were a native species here that was lost in time. They were here before we were here and it was our introduction that pushed them out. Now we have helped to bring them back. That’s certainly worth noting.”
The Chelsea Fire Department announced this week that they have secured a major federal grant to pay for the hiring of eight new firefighters in this year’s budget – with Chief Len Albanese saying the new recruits could hit the streets by Thanksgiving.
The Homeland Security grant provides $1.4 million of federal funding over a three-year period, covering 75 percent of the salary and benefits for two years. The third year of the grant will cover 35 percent of the share of salaries and benefits.
In the fourth year of the grant, the City would be responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with the new hires.
Albanese said that in the end, concerns about not getting the grant due to Chelsea’s Sanctuary City status did not factor into whether the City did or did not get the grant as the application was put in last year.
Overall, the big news is that the Fire Department will go over 100 members for the first time in decades.
The grant will put the contingent up to 102 member.
“We’ve had 92 members for quite a while,” said the chief. “Prior to my arrival and when I got here and that’s a situation I assume goes back to the 1990s – post-receivership. (Last year), we added two members to get up to 94 and with the intention to add more. With the SAFER grant now in place, we can add eight new members and that brings our staffing up to 102…Having 102 is what we consider to be a really good staffing level for the Fire Department.”
He said that Revere’s contingent is at 98 and Everett – which also has a SAFER grant- is at 111.
He said adding the new members won’t eliminate overtime, but he believes it will bring it down to a reasonable number – eliminating what has been many years of controversy surrounding overspending on overtime.
“The purpose is to not just decrease overtime,” he said. “There’s always overtime in a 24/7 business…This will control overtime and put boots on the ground. It will stabilize overtime and increase staffing.”
Already, Albanese said he has identified the eight recruits from Civil Service, having been confident of getting the grant and taking early action. That will mean they get in the Station very quickly.
“We have eight recruits identified and they preparing to attend the Brookline Fire Academy on Sept. 5,” he said. “That means if all goes well, we will have these additional firefighters on the street by Thanksgiving.”
Along with this grant and another recently received, the fire department has garnered $2 million of federal funding from the 2016 DHS/FEMA programs.
Take a walk down Broadway Chelsea and one will see a mix of life.
The poor, the rich, the less fortunate.
One often doesn’t realize, however, that some of the people walking along amidst everyday life are homeless.
In the U.S. there are more than half a million homeless people (according to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress: AHAR) with about 21,237 people being attributed to Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has many shelters around the state that cater to the homeless, and many programs and shelters that offer to assist the homeless in getting back on their feet. Some examples are the Salvation Army, the Pine Street Inn, the Dennis McLaughlin House and YMCA of Greater Boston. With these shelters, and other programs, according to the AHAR, Massachusetts has the third lowest number of unsheltered homeless individuals in the country, 3.6 percent of the total homeless population.
Those in shelters can be families and individuals, and many receive care and help from the state and community during the holidays.
Here in Chelsea, the Salvation Army doesn’t have a shelter like it does in Cambridge, but it does have a meals program and donation program to help those in shelters or those in housing who are in need. The Chelsea Salvation Army also offers help to those who are on the streets, abusing drugs, to stop using.
They are able to make connections for those willing to make change, as there in no shelter at the Chelsea location itself.
“We don’t have any specific programs that are just for homeless. With the community meals program, we don’t ask if they are homeless when they come in to eat, though they could be,” said Capt. Armida Harper of the Salvation Army in Chelsea. “We have food pantry Monday through Friday, 9:30 to noon. People can come in once a month and get food for their families or themselves.”
This Christmas the Salvation Army gave out 400 Christmas dinners to people who singed up to say they needed help.
“We start in November, at Thanksgiving, and we do about 270 of the baskets in East Boston, and for residents of Chelsea and Revere, we have a dinner hosted by the Cheesecake Factory,” Capt. Harper. “In all, about 400 meals are served on Thanksgiving. Then comes Christmas, where we have a toy distribution. We have 378 families here and also any of our families from East Boston and Charlestown, which is again about 275 families, go down to Boston, to the South End and get toys with the rest of the city of Boston.”
People like DeAnn Brown came to the Salvation Army for both her Christmas dinner basket and to receive toys for her children. She sat the Monday before Christmas in the lobby waiting for the bag of donated toys.
“I am glad they do this every year, to help those that need the extra help, I’m grateful,” said Brown.
“Anyone who needed something for Christmas could have signed up to get it,” said Capt. Harper.
Sometimes it’s just a meal that people need to get through the day and the Salvation Amy offers that as well.
“We have food pantry Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to noon,” said Harper. “People can come in once a month and get food for their families or themselves.”
The Salvation Army also offers meals daily to anyone who walks in off the street.
“We have about 10 to 15 senior citizens that come in at noon and eat here and then at 1 p.m. we have anywhere from 20 to 30 people from the community that come in and eat. People that are homeless; that are dealing with addiction. Sometimes we even have families that are eating here at 1 p.m., mothers with their kids, things like that.”
During the community meal last week, there was a mix of addicts, and just people needing a meal to get through the day.
A 26-year-old women known as “Pink” said, “I have been coming to Chelsea for five years,” as she showed obvious signs of intoxication.
Pink considers herself homeless.
She slept in a hallway on the previous night.
“I always go out of my way to find a place to sleep,” she proclaimed as she laughed and ate her meal.
Across the room sat Joey, who had no shortage of words.
“After my dad died, I got sentenced to jail, and the day I got out, March 9, my mom died that same day,” said Joey. “That day I took two Klonapins and then shot up.”
Joey went on to claim that he wished that there was a shelter in Chelsea to keep him off the streets at night, looking for a drink or drug or another fix.
Also in the room was Raquel Rodriguez, a women who was just the focus of a Boston Globe one-year photo essay and feature story that followed her as she dealt with her family and addiction.
“(I) Used to be homeless,” said Rodriguez. “I come here to see my friends. I don’t forget where I came from.”
Rodriguez, who was attached to an oxygen tank, spoke of trying to get clean, relapsing and trying to get ready for Christmas. As she sat, another women did her hair and they laughed. To them, everything was normal.
She was excited that she was going to be a feature in a “big” story by the Globe.
Before the start of the meal service, Debbie Dunn, the cook, stepped out of the kitchen to say a prayer with those in the room.
“You would have to get emotional, when seeing those who have a problem or are going through a hard time,” said Dunn, a 25-year veteran of the Salvation Army. “I needed a little job, and when I came I did breads and deserts. Then the other cook got sick and I took over.”
Dunn was serving a pasta and meat dish that day and knew what each of those in attendance liked and didn’t like. One man didn’t like meat and she made him a separate dish. She offered everyone a donut for dessert and bread rolls as well.
“You have to be a person. I love the people,” said Dunn.
On average the community meal feeds 20 to 30 people a day, according to the Salvation Amy.
“I do know homelessness is an issue, I do know people are sleeping under the Bridge, but because we have been here six months, I couldn’t tell you if it was higher or lower,” said Capt. Harper.
According to AHAR, since 2010 homelessness has decreased by 62,000 people nationwide.
When asked what she would do with the cold winter months approaching, Pink responded, “Maybe I’ll get into a program to better myself.”
If one sees a bright star shining to the East this Christmas Eve, then they must be looking towards St. Rose Church.
Over the last three years, the Vietnamese community within the Parish has banded together to put up a detailed Nativity scene with hundreds of Christmas lights and, this year, a towering 40-foot lighted star above the Nativity.
Father Hilario Sanez Jr. of St. Rose Church said the Vietnamese community at St. Rose numbers about 400 at the weekly Mass, and is one of the largest Vietnamese congregations in all of the Archdiocese of Boston.
For the past 10 years, he said, the Vietnamese at St. Rose have been putting up the display, with it getting bigger and better every year.
“The Vietnamese community of St. Rose prepares it in the courtyard next to the church,” he said. “The community wanted to do something that would enhance the Nativity and the baby Jesus and remind people in Chelsea about the birth of Jesus. So far, all of the comments have been very positive.”
Father Sanez said he felt it was a very good idea for those in the Parish and the community to take note of the growing display.
“Individually we have to be reminded about what happened 2,000 years ago and be reminded once again about the birth of Jesus,” he said. “It does remind us that we are celebrating the joy of the life of Jesus. He was born for us in a very simple way. The display is a great reminder of that and attracts the attention of everyone going by. Everyone has said they are very happy to see the Nativity scene here. I think it’s the only one in Chelsea.”
On the day after Thanksgiving, about 20 or so parishioners from the Vietnamese congregation gather in the courtyard and, in one day, assemble the Nativity and accompanying light display. They leave it up into January and take it down after the celebration of Jesus’ baptism.
Father Sanez said he hopes people will take a moment to stop by the display and ponder the reason for the season, and come into the church as well to celebrate Mass.
“We invite people to drop by and see the display and take pictures,” he said. “We also invite everyone to stop by the church and see the Nativity inside too. Our church is open to all.”
The overall display is very colorful and located next to the St. Rose church.
The Chelsea High football team turned in a valiant effort, but came up short by a score of 18-12 in a Thanksgiving Day battle with Matignon at Dilboy Stadium.
The contest began well for the Red Devils. After the CHS defense forced Matignon to punt on its opening possession, the Red Devils marched 50 yards for a touchdown, capped by a four yard burst into the end zone by sophomore David Bui.
However, Matignon bounced back thanks to a big return on the ensuing kickoff which brought the ball to the Chelsea 30. Matignon then executed a flanker reverse on second down to cover the 32 yard distance into the Chelsea end zone to knot matters at 6-6.
The teams then exchanged punts, with Nick Ieng taking the Matignon kick and racing 64 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, Nick’s fine effort was called back because of a ref’s flag on a Chelsea player for a block in the back. With the Red Devils taking possession at their own 38, Chelsea proceeded to nullify the penalty by marching into the Matignon end zone. Senior captain Dennys Hernandez, an offensive lineman, got the call for the final two yards to make it 12-6 in favor of Chelsea.
“It’s always nice to reward a senior lineman who has put in the work for four years both in the weight room and in the trenches on the offensive line,” said CHS head coach Jack Halas. “Dennys is a great kid, and I’m glad we were able to give him the ball for the touchdown in the final game of his CHS career.”
However, all of the good work of the Chelsea offense went for naught thanks once again to poor coverage on the ensuing kickoff. The Matignon kick returner took the ball all the way to the CHS three yard line, with kicker Henry Lemus making a saving tackle. Still, three plays later Matignon reached paydirt to even matters at 12-12.
The half ended with Chelsea punting on its next offensive possession and Red Devil Luis Jiminez intercepting a Matignon “Hail Mary” pass as the clock wound down.
The second half proved to be defensive struggle. The Red Devils were able to advance only as far as the Matignon 32 in the third quarter, with the drive sputtering out thanks to a mishandled snap on a third-and-five. Matignon then took over and put together its best drive of the day, aided once again primarily by a wide-receiver reverse play that eventually led to a touchdown from the Chelsea three yard line.
With the contest now in the fourth quarter, the Red Devil defense needed to make a stop, and it did, giving the ball to Chelsea at the CHS 46 with about 4:00 to play. The Red Devils appeared primed to seize the momentum. Ieng carried for 22 yards off the right side, Bui ran for eight more yards, and a 12 yard completion over the middle from Mike Rowan to Dashuan Alves gave Chelsea a first-and-10 at the Matignon 16.
However, that would prove to be as close as Chelsea would get to the Matignon end zone, as the drive ended after two incomplete passes. Matignon then was able to take knees to end the ballgame.
“It was a tough one to lose,” said Halas. “Give lots of credit to Matignon. They had a game plan which they executed well. We did not make the key plays or enough plays to allow us to win the ballgame. They made more plays than we did, and they deserved to win the game. They outplayed us.
“Obviously, it was not the way we wanted to send our seniors out on Thanksgiving,” added Halas. “We left too many opportunities out on the field. The big play hurt us badly both in the kicking game and defensively. We had a couple of drives offensively sputter out because of poor execution.”
A number of Red Devils turned in fine performances. Rowan hit on 13-of-18 passes for 71 yards. Jiminez was his chief target with six receptions for 41 yards. Alves grabbed two passes for 15 yards. Ieng lugged the ball 13 times for 74 yards and caught three passes for 12 yards. Bui rushed for 38 yards on seven attempts and had two receptions for three yards to go with his TD. Hernandez had one carry for two yards and a TD.
Defensively, Hernandez was a bulwark with six tackles. Alves and Nelson Hernandez were credited with five tackles each. The duo of Edwin Dubon and Bui made four tackles apiece.
Bruins Beatby Bob Morello
Bruins ‘Go West Young Man’
Using the popular idiom – “the early bird gets the worm,’ the Boston Bruins left a day earlier for their Western road trip, with the hopes of creating a more fitting idiom, such as “the early team gets the win.” Departing a day earlier to arrive in Edmonton on Monday, Boston opened up their stay by one more day, which means that they arrived, relaxed, and had their Tuesday morning practice in Edmonton, instead of Wilmington.
Coach Claude Julien explained, “It just shows how important this road trip is to us. We know there is a difference and a time change and everything else, and that represents a challenge in itself in any normal situation. So we thought coming in a day earlier and getting ourselves acclimated to, I guess, this area here and making the most of it was basically what we’re trying to do here.” It made good sense for the Bruins players to enjoy a solid night’s sleep for the two days prior to last night’s (Wednesday 9:30pm) road trip opener versus the Edmonton Oilers, all the while adjusting to the time difference, and a lengthy airplane ride. Having had a four-day layoff since earning their huge win over the New York Rangers, the question to be answered is: “Does ‘rest’ equal ‘rust,’ or ‘resilience?’
The Oilers roster will be missing two of their top players due to injuries, number one pick, Connor McDavid, and Nail Yakupov. While this matchup looks like an easy win for the Bruins, Edmonton, despite holding the bottom spot in league standings, has had spurts of playing well of late, and will likely not be easy pickings for the Bruins. The Bruins were looking to notch a victory over the Oilers and their general manager, former B’s GM, Peter Chiarelli, to start the three-game road trip, but their focus is on playing the steady, consistent hockey that has earned them their five-game win streak.
Nothing short of a three-game sweep on this road trip will be considered acceptable, or as coach Julien summarized, “We all know these western trips are always tough trips, no matter where the teams are in the standings, I’m really focused on having a good road trip here. A good start to this trip is imperative. We’ve got a little bit of a streak going and we know the feeling of winning. So it’s about doing the right things to keep it going.”
On Friday, Boston will begin a back-to-back schedule with a game versus the Calgary Flames (12/4 at 9:00pm), and finishes up with the Bruins taking on the Vancouver Canucks (Saturday 12/5 at 10:00pm).
This current stretch of five games in eight days will wrap up with Boston hosting the Nashville Predators (Monday 12/7 at 7:00pm), then back on the road to take on the Montreal Canadiens (Wednesday 12/9 at 7:30pm). The B’s left Boston with a five-game win streak which they hope to have extended to eight, at the expense of three Western Conference teams that are currently mired in the bottom six positions of their conference – all out of playoff position. A possible downside is the fact Boston has not faced any of the three teams they will meet on the three game road trip, which means it may take some time for the Bruins to adjust to the new faces and styles.
A ROYAL THANKSGIVING: The Chelsea Collaborative and St. Luke’s-San Lucas Church held a cooperative Thanksgiving Dinner last Tuesday, Nov. 17, for a select group of needy families – including many residents from the flooded areas in the Broadway Glen apartment tower. The crowded church hall was warm with pre-Thanksgiving cheer as volunteers and friends came together for a special meal. Pictured here are Emerson Vasquez, School Committee- elect Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez, Councillor-elect Roy Avellaneda, Erika Ruiz (Miss Belleza Latina USA) and Kashly Reyes (Miss Teen Belleza Latina USA).
When the Chelsea High School football team trailed Everett High, 20-0, in the 1980 Thanksgiving game, few fans at Chelsea Memorial Stadium thought a Red Devil comeback was possible.
But the crowd of 8,500 spectators would soon witness offensive exploits that would turn this holiday rivalry upside down.
Chelsea quarterback Richard Maronski rifled a 63-yard touchdown pass to Paul Driscoll to ignite the Chelsea rooting section. Maronski then tossed a pass to Butchie Strukel for a two-pointer to close the gap to 20-8.
But Maronski and Driscoll were just getting started. On the next possession, Maronski connected with Driscoll for a 52-yard strike, bringing Chelsea to within one score, 20-14.
With coach Bobby Fee imploring his Chelsea squad to keep the pressure on the Everett defense, it was Maronski again with an 8-yard TD pass to Driscoll. Edwin Lopez booted the PAT to give Chelsea a 21-20 halftime lead.
After intermission, Bobby Fee’s Red Devils would not be denied, adding two more rushing touchdowns by Tony DiRienzo and Scott Leonard to build a 34-20 lead going in to the fourth quarter. Everett scored its last touchdown with five minutes left, but Chelsea ran out the clock on its greatest-ever comeback victory.
Maronski vividly remembers the final game of his junior season.
“What I remember most was the players carrying coach Fee off the field right after the game ended,” recalled Maronski. “And I loved the kids I played football with at Chelsea High. We were very close and to beat Everett made our careers special. They say if you beat Everett you have a winning season and we were able to do that in dramatic fashion.”
As for his three successive touchdown passes to his friend and classmate, Paul Driscoll, Maronski says, “The offensive line [Danny Hurton, Kerry Cole, Keith Barry, Bobby Carolan, Glenn Smith] and our fullback [Greg DePatto] gave me excellent pass protection and I was able to deliver the passes to Paul, who was great that day.”
Maronski, who now serves on the Chelsea School Committee, said the Chelsea-Everett rivalry was special.
“Anyone who played in this series knows what a big game it was,” said Maronski. “The 1980 game is something we all will never forget. I was so happy for
The football stars of the 1980 Chelsea-Everett Thanksgiving game, Tony DiRienzo, Paul Driscoll, Rich Maronski, and Scott Leonard.
all the kids, the city of Chelsea, and coach Fee on that day.”
The Chelsea-Everett rivalry ended in 1989, but the memories of this glorious game on a cold and blustery Thanksgiving day at Chelsea Memorial Stadium will live on forever.
Another Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s a day for schoolboy football, family gatherings, and not much else to do other than enjoy a great dinner with friends and family that reminds us how fortunate we truly are as a nation at a time when circumstances are so cruel for so many others in the world.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, tracing its roots back almost 400 years to the Pilgrims, long before there was even a thought of a United States of America. Ever since then, in one form or another, Thanksgiving has become the ultimate national holiday. It’s a day of no pressure, a day when no one expects anything from us and we expect nothing from anyone else (other than from the person doing all the cooking!). It lacks the commercialism, religiosity, solemnity, and political overtones of all of our other national observances. It is the only day on the calendar when we have no obligation other than to spend the day with those who mean the most to us.
Thanksgiving is a day for relaxation, reflection, and inevitably — at least for some of us — a post-dinner nap or early night of sleep. In a time when so many of us are connected 24/7 to some instrument of communication, it truly is a relief to have a day when we can just shut it all off.
We wish all of our readers a happy — and restful — Thanksgiving.
Executives at Demoulas Market Basket are vehemently contesting a local survey done this week on supermarket prices, saying the analysis was flawed and that their prices did not go up 9 percent, as widely reported.
The survey by ConsumerWorld.org has received a great amount of airplay and the inaccuracies of it, and the coverage by the media, have frustrated some in the Market Basket chain.
“It’s not a legitimate survey, but even if it was and you gave it credibility, then he got the analysis wrong,” said David McLean of Market Basket. “Of the 17 items he surveyed, 13 were the same price, two went down in price, and two went up in price. Those that went up in price were beef and eggs. Eggs have gone up astronomically industry-wide and he got the wrong price for our hamburger. He had $3.99 and it’s $3.49. If he had taken out beef and eggs, the two things that have jumped industry-wide, our prices would have gone down by 1.2 percent. He had our prices up 9 percent.
“This is a study that it’s own proprietor, Edgar Dworsky, has said is skewed in a story published in the Boston Globe,” he continued. “This study is really being called into question. It’s not fair to our customers and it’s a shame other media didn’t do their due diligence. Is it about ratings or is it about the news?”
The survey by ConsumerWorld.org – a company based in Boston since 1995 and headed up by Dworsky, a former Consumer Division employee at the Attorney General’s Office – showed that prices are going up across the board at most every supermarket. The survey was conducted on Aug. 5 at local supermarkets like the Chelsea Market Basket, the Revere Price Rite, the Somerville Star Market, the Medford Aldi Supermarket and the Chelsea Save-A-Lot. The prices for items purchased were compared to similar purchases made last year on Aug. 6, 2014.
The survey reported that Market Basket prices went up 9 percent, Star Market when up 8 percent, Stop & Shop went up 7 percent, Price Rite up 7 percent, Aldi up 6 percent and Save-A-Lot up 3 percent. The survey noted that while Market Basket’s prices rose the sharpest over the year, most of that was due to the 4 percent price cut promotion that ran all of 2014 and expired in 2015. With that in mind, Dworsky’s analysis showed Market Basket up by 5 percent, though McLean said that still is not correct.
“The largest increase was at Market Basket which suffered through an employee and customer boycott last summer,” read the survey findings. “In substantial part, the reason for Market Basket’s price hikes was the elimination of its extra four percent across-the-board discount that was applied to all orders throughout 2014. Higher beef and egg prices accounted for most of the rest of the increase there and at all chains.”
The ConsumerWorld.org survey showed that Market Basket was still much cheaper than other full service supermarkets, such as Stop & Shop (15 percent less) and Star Market (29 percent less). However it concluded that the lowest prices on some items came at so-called limited assortment stores – which are not full service and vary in their stock selections. Examples of those stores are Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Price Rite.
“While Market Basket is perceived by many to be the lowest-priced supermarket, smaller limited assortment stores have even lower prices, but they have yet to be discovered by most shoppers,” commented Dworsky.
McLean added that the survey was not only unfair to Market Basket, but also every other company in it.
“They had us 29 percent lower than Star Market and 15 percent lower than Stop & Shop, but I will still say that survey is not fair to any company represented in the survey because it was a flawed survey for everyone and Dworsky acknowledged that,” he said.
McLean pointed to the Nielsen ratings, which came out in June, and reported that prices were 15.9 percent lower at Market Basket this year as compared to 15.1 percent lower last year.
He also said Consumer Reports – which looks at variety, price, cleanliness and other categories – had rated Market Basket’s chain higher than ever before this year.
“They had us at 5th nationally in their most recent report,” he said. “Before that we were 7th and before that we were 9th.”
He also advised anyone interested in following a true price survey to look out for the Checkbook.org Boston version of supermarket price surveys that will come out in the winter. There are far more items compared in that survey, he said, and it is far more accurate and is done nationally.
McLean said Market Basket has found some solace from the damaging survey in the comment sections at many of the Boston media outlets. In those comment sections online, many consumers are found to have chimed in and called the survey into question.
“You can’t insult the intelligence of today’s customer,” he said. “We have very educated customers. Consumers today know because they are on the front lines. They are the ones taking things off the shelf and paying for them.”
EGG PRICES EXPECTED TO CONTINUE GOING UP
Buried within the survey controversy is the fact that the price of eggs has risen tremendously, and are expected to rise even higher in the coming months.
“The price of eggs have gone through the roof,” said David McLean of Market Basket. “From two weeks ago, the wholesale price of eggs a dozen have gone up $1…They’re saying that by October and November eggs could be $4 or $5 a dozen. That’s a very big story. Eggs are a staple item. People don’t realize they had to put down millions of birds because of sickness. When people start baking during the colder months, they’re going to really feel that price jump.”
The industry-wide increase comes due to a flu that many chickens and turkeys contracted late last year and early this year. Millions and millions of birds had to be killed due to the sickness and the potential spread of the sickness.
Many have also said that the price and availability of turkey could be drastically affected also during Thanksgiving.