Mars reverses decision, will close Thanksgiving But Giant to open on the holiday


Under pressure from workers and customers, a Baltimore grocery chain has decided to reverse its decision to be open on Thanksgiving, and two others are standing by their decision to be closed on the holiday.

But the area's largest grocery chain, Giant Food Inc., is sticking with its plan to open its 160 stores on Thanksgiving for the first time in its 57-year history.

That decision by Giant put other chains under pressure to open. In fact, Mars Supermarkets Inc., a 12-store chain, reluctantly decided a week ago to open to meet Giant's challenge. But after receiving about 75 complaints from customers, the Baltimore-based store reconsidered and will continue its policy of closing on Thanksgiving.

"It was mainly due to the amount of phone calls from customers," said Mars President Angelo N. D'Anna. "If that's the way our customers feel and our employees feel, we will close."

Basics Foods and Metro Food Markets, two chains owned by Super Rite Foods Inc. in Harrisburg, Pa., are aggressively advertising that they will be closed on Thanksgiving.

"There Are Some Things More Important Than Money," reads an advertisement for Metro Food Market that will appear in tomorrow's Sun. The ad stresses "traditional family values" and says, "So on Thanksgiving Day, in spite of competitive pressure, we will remain closed."

Similar advertisements will be run later in the week for the 22-store Basics Foods chain, according to John Ryder, president and chief operating officer of the two chains. Valu Food, a 16-store chain will also advertise its Thanksgiving closings next week, according to Louis Denrich, president of the Baltimore-based company.

In a Nov. 8 letter to employees, he said the decision might cost the company some sales. "But I believe this would be a small price to pay compared to the disruption this may cause on our families and loved ones," he wrote.

Giant is staying by its decision to open on Thanksgiving despite the action of its smaller competitors and complaints from its employees and their union, according to spokesman Mark Roeder.

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