Guest post, Mike Dunleavy Store Director Somerville

“Mike is a veteran Store Director, managing what is most likely the busiest store per square foot in the Northeast if not the country. Mike is highly respected by his associates, peers and upper management. Thank you for speaking your mind Mike.”

My name is Mike Dunleavy with 35 years of proud service, 16 years as Store Director.
I also came from a very humbling beginning; Dad was totally disabled since I was 7 years old from 5 back operations. Mom worked 3 waitress jobs to support Dad and us 4 kids and try to make ends meet. The day I turned 16, I went to Billerica Mall #17 and got hired…so the story starts.

With all the stories and comments about our leader, I would like to finally chime in with my take, specifically regarding the Somerville Facility.
To give a little background, Somerville #28, in a concentrated Boston urban area that includes customers coming from Boston, Cambridge, Arlington, Medford, Dorchester and obviously Somerville… has no less than 15 major supermarkets within a 5 mile radius,(6-Star Market/Shaws, 4-Stoppies, 6-Whole Foods, Aldi…etc) in a facility that only has barely over 31,000 sq.ft. of sales area, a mere convenient store in comparison to other Market Baskets. Somerville has no bakery, no kitchen, none of the bells and whistles of our newer stores; yet it continues to flourish in volume. It ranks top ten in company volume and first in sales/sq.ft.; all out of an antiquated store that sits all by itself, no plaza, no mall to attract extra business, just a small little MB..all by itself!! How does it stay afloat in such a concentrated area with so many other choices? I have my theory:
As I remember back in January 1998 when I was privileged to have been promoted to Store Manager on a Thursday, Mr. T.A. DeMoulas came in that Saturday. I thanked him for the opportunity, but as a man that didn’t like much small talk, he said “You earned the position you’re in” and then quickly turned the conversation to business. He spent about an hour in the store with me and on the way out; he said something that has always stuck with me, it was simple and to the point, “take care of our customers and they will always return…with another customer”.
Fast forward to just this past Saturday, 16 years later almost to the day, ATD walks in with his son TA. He does not walk by a single associate in the store without saying “Hello; Thank you for the hard work; patting employees on the back; shaking hands”…He missed no one. When word spread throughout the store that “The Boss” was here, employees were lining up to thank him for everything, for the fight for the company, for his generosity, for their college scholarships amongst other things. He thanked each and everyone and just reminded them, “to take care of the customer.” Sound familiar, not much changed in 16 years?
He approaches customers, customers approach him, some saying they recognized him from seeing his picture on various news sites, thanking him for great prices and 4% off? He tells a customer “you deserve the discount, we don’t need it!” “It’s a THANK YOU from Market Basket for your continued patronage with us; we really appreciate your business.
I say to the Board of Directors, if you personally saw the reception that Mr.ATD got this Saturday, in the heat of a busy Saturday, from both employees and customers alike…you would for sure reconsider any thought of ever changing the leadership of this company. You have the “Top Gun” doing the job right now; right under your nose…he truly is “The Best of the Best”.
To use another analogy, We all know Bill Belichick coaches the N.E.Patriots all while Bob Kraft sits in his cushy owner’s suite. Mr. Kraft doesn’t tell Belichick how to run the team, how to coach the team, he lets the man that knows the game to coach his team…how’s that worked out over the years…pretty good I’d say!
Mr. ATD has been running OUR company for the past 10 years, how’s that worked out? Record profits, record margins, great employee morale, double-digit increase in sales and a company that is the envy of the grocery business. Now the Board wants to intervene? Why? I suggest to “The Board”, do what Mr. Kraft does, sit back and let “OUR COACH” run “OUR TEAM”; it’s worked out very well so far without you.

Mike Dunleavy-Store Manager
Somerville #28


  1. Cindy whelan says:

    Yes, yes, YES! Let our couch run OUR team! Great post, Mr. Dunleavy! Proud to be a member of OUR team! Loving the analogy because it is spot on!

  2. Outstanding Mike.

  3. RoN lambert says:

    We’ll said mike, great post. You got the boss on point. I’m glad to be your Brother thru all this. We will be victors when we all stick together

  4. Tom Trainor says:

    What a powerful post! You are spot on with your analogy and no one knows us like we know us. Thanks for your leadership Mike

  5. MarK lemieux says:

    Great post Mike!

  6. Josh Higgins says:

    Spot on mike! I’m proud to say that I was your produce manager for 7 years in Somerville.

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