By Alex Lippa
For the third time in the store's history, Market Basket has moved into a bigger facility in Westgate Plaza. The new supermarket opened on Sunday and drew a large crowd, eager to see the new offerings.
Store manager Mike Miamis said that the first day drew bigger crowds than expected.
"Over 6,000 people came to the store on Sunday," said Miamis. "The parking lot was so jammed, it was tough to get a spot."
The new store is located in the former Kmart building, several doors down from the previous location, which closed on Saturday.
The Kmart building had been vacant since Kmart closed its doors in 2003. It is 77,000 square feet, an upgrade on their previous digs, which were 51,000 square feet. With the bigger building, Market Basket has added 120 employees.
"For shoppers that like the comfort of space, they will see that throughout the store," said David McLean, operations manager of Market Basket.
McLean said the building that Market Basket just moved from is being remodeled and potential tenants are looking to lease the building.
The original Market basket in Westgate Plaza opened in 1966, close to where Shamrock Westgate Wine and Spirits is now situated. It moved into its second location in 1990.
The newest feature of the store is the "Market's Kitchen," which offers freshly prepared foods, such as brick oven pizza, panini sandwiches and sushi. Next to that is a café© serving fresh orange juice, teas, coffees and smoothies. A café©-style dining area serves both stations, with 48 seats, free wifi and two flat screen televisions.
"We make our sandwiches with fresh meat brought over from the butchery," said Miamis.
The store also has a new section which features more organic products.
Work on the building took about six months, and the store was stocked in two to three days. The hours of the store remain the same.
Haverhill resident Katrina Thorne said that she used to visit the old location several times a week and was impressed with the new facility.
"It's excellent," said Thorne. "Everyone here was so helpful, helping me locate where everything is in the store."
The store also had printed maps detailing which items were in each aisle.
"It was much larger, brighter, and there was much more of a selection of food and in general supplies," said Tracy Fuller of Haverhill, who visited the store at its opening on Sunday. "The produce section looked really expansive and the lines moved quickly."
Aside from one customer who asked about adding more handicapped parking spots, Miamis said, the first few days of the new store have gone by without a hitch.
"So far it's been packed," said Miamis. "Every register has had to stay open."