By Lynne Touhy
CONCORD, N.H. -- From farmers markets teeming with new customers in New Hampshire to a Massachusetts flower grower desperately seeking new buyers for tens of thousands of mums, fallout from the Market Basket supermarket stalemate has been a mixed bag.
The 2-month-old employee revolt at the 71-store New England grocery chain coincides with what farmers say has been one of the best growing seasons in recent memory. But some growers who rely on big orders from Market Basket are not reaping the benefits as well as others.
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While there are signals a breakthrough could come soon, Market Basket patrons have been boycotting stores. Most deliveries have stopped. Shelves are empty. Farmers who grew produce and flowers to fill Market Basket orders are scrambling to find other outlets. Those who saw the promise of profits in June are now counting their losses. "There's just been so many ripple effects," said Lorraine Merrill, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. "It's nothing like anything we've ever seen."
John Simone of Simone's Riverside Farm in Methuen, Massachusetts, said the first day he was to begin shipping produce to Market Basket was the day employees walked off the job to protest the June 23 ouster of CEO Arthur T. Demoulas by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and his allies.
"It's going to be hard to recover from," said Simone as he stared at 20,000 mums that were grown and bound for Market Basket stores. "It's completely stressing me out."