The Sun had barely cracked the horizon Sunday morning, but shoppers were already wheeling out carts stocked with food, water and other necessities after flooding the new Revere Market Basket well before the official opening hour.
“It’s like Christmas,” said Susan DiRusso of Milano Avenue at just after 7 a.m. on Sunday. “I’m like a little kid. It’s like the day after Thanksgiving and you have the fliers from Black Friday. I couldn’t sleep last night. I even set the alarm so I could get up and get in here.”
That was the sentiment amongst everyone as Revere residents descended upon the long-awaited opening of the store Sunday. The Market Basket has been readying the store – which was completed construction-wise more than one year ago – since settling its business conflicts late last summer.
Sunday was the big day, and Revere folks – as well as folks from Lynn, Malden, Everett and Winthrop – turned out in unbelievable numbers.
“I was going to camp out here,” said Doreen Bellofatto with a laugh. “I think its great and positive and I’m seeing so many of my friends here.”
Said her husband, George Bellofatto, “We need something good in Revere now. We didn’t get a casino, but we got a Market Basket. Instead of throwing away your money at a casino, you’re spending it here and you at least get something for your money here.”
Carla Gambardella and her sister, Terry Plant – who was visiting from Alaska and came out to the grand opening – were very excited to hit the store early.
“I waited so, so long for this,” said Carla. “This is so positive and Revere needs something positive right now.”
Anthony Ruggiero, a long-time Market Basket shopper who lives across the street from Northgate Mall, said he couldn’t wait to get in the store and decided to take a go-through early Sunday morning.
By 6:55 a.m., he had already gathered up a few items and was headed back to his car.
“I waited and waited and waited for this to open and it never did; I was so upset,” he said. “But this, this is unbelievable today. Very exciting. I’ve shopped in Chelsea for years and it’s a good store because you save a lot of money and it’s clean and nice. I usually go to the gym in the morning and I drove by at 6:30 a.m. and it was open, so I figured, why not? I bought a few things and looked around, but I’ll come back with my wife later in the week. I’m very happy to see this.”
And so were so many others.
Right off the bat on Sunday, it was as if instant life had been breathed into a strip mall that had fallen on really hard times in the last 10 years – and has only recently made a small comeback. However, with an anchor store like Market Basket now open, it was quite apparent that there was some real economic life living and breathing in what has been a derelict corner of the city for more than a decade.
“Sunday morning was a very exciting time for Northgate and our community,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo. “We believe Market Basket will be a tremendous catalyst in redefining Northgate Shopping Center that has for many years, longed for this type of anchor tenant. It’s also a great opportunity for Revere shoppers to more readily access the terrific deals and savings that Market Basket has come to be known for.”
Councillor Brian Arrigo and his wife, Daveen, couldn’t keep away from the store on Sunday.
“It’s exciting for Revere and I think it’s just what the City needed right now,” said Daveen. “It’s good to see something so positive.”
Councillor Arrigo said he saw it as a new chapter in what has been an amazing corporate story.
“It’s amazing a group of workers and residents could get together and boycott and change the future of a billion dollar company,” he said. “Part of the excitement today is about that story. It’s not anything you would usually see outside of a movie. I think it’s a new chapter today that they’re turning. I think we’re seeing that.”
Another thing that was clearly seen – as alluded to by Mayor Rizzo – was the multi-city draw that Market Basket brings.
Residents of Lynn and Malden and Everett who don’t usually go to Revere were standing in line and piling into the Revere store Sunday.
“I loved shopping here and I’ll be coming to Revere again,” said Sharon Rogge of Lynn. “I usually go to Market Basket, but I end up in Chelsea or Salem. I’ll be coming back to Revere for sure. I also will be asking Arthur T. Demoulas to run for governor. He can do it.”
Two Winthrop residents, Rose DeMarco and Nancy Melchionda, said they were giving the Revere store a try. They typically go to the Chelsea store, but said they wanted to see if Revere was better.
Coming from Malden, Norma Giacobbe said she’s been waiting for a year to start shopping at the Revere store as opposed to Chelsea or Waltham.
“I used to go to Chelsea, but it’s just so big,” she said. “I like this store in Revere and I’ll be coming back to it. I like Market Basket in general. I’ve been shopping there for years. The workers are very polite. You get these other stores where the people who work there are so ignorant. They’re checkers are talking about their boyfriends or girlfriends and not paying any attention to the customers.”
Store Director Ron Lambert said doors opened early and shoppers were there in droves. He said he could tell the excitement was huge once the doors opened.
“I think its spectacular,” he said. “People are very, very happy to be here. There’s kind of a little lull in the City because of things that happened and they needed to have a little pizzazz and they got it. We’re excited that people are enjoying the store. The parking lot is full and we have a lot of people in here and we have a lot of workers in here to serve them. It’s been a great opening.”