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  • Courtesy photo by Shawna Spingle

    Michael Devaney

  • Courtesy photo by Shawna Spingle

    Michael Devaney

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Man creates own Market Basket site

HUDSON - Swordfish steaks are on sale for $5.99 a pound this week at Market Basket, and you can get five Mama Rosie's Spinach Ravioli for $5 or save 70 cents on Chavrine Crumbled Goat Cheese.

None of that information is available on Market Basket's website, nor is a list of the regional grocery chain's stores or store hours, because Market Basket doesn't run a website.

Instead, shoppers have a relatively new option, MyDemoulas.com, owned and operated by Manchester resident Michael Devaney.

"I've been a fan for a long time," Devaney said. "Growing up in Massachusetts, going to DeMoulas was an every weekend thing."

Last summer, Devaney's fiance wanted to go to the Market Basket store in Concord but he wanted to check the store hours before making the drive.

"We didn't want to take the chance of driving all the way down there and having it closed and all that," Devaney said. "There's no hours anywhere online."

He learned that while the chain operates 19 stores in New Hampshire, including in Nashua, Hudson and Milford, and is building three more in Manchester, Hooksett and Londonderry, it does not have a website or a Web presence to speak of.

The Londonderry store will replace an old one in that town.

Devaney launched the site less than six months ago and had nearly 2,000 visitors that month. But visits are up, way up, to the tune of nearly tripling each month.

The site has now been visited about 4.4 million times by 1.4 unique visitors, Devaney said.

"There was an opportunity there, and mostly I'm an entrepreneur," said the independent website developer. "It's a really big opportunity. It's a major super market chain in New England."

The site is fairly straightforward with a blog dominating the front page and a row of buttons at the top for a store locator, the weekly flier, coupons, a forum, a history section and a menu for the stores' cafes.

A number of the visitors also participate on the site. Devaney said he gets hundreds of e-mails and comments left on the site itself.

"It is being widely used. It's pretty incredible."

The site is called MyDemoulas.com after the founder of the company, Athansios "Arthur" Demoulas , and the original store, DeMoulas Market that opened in Lowell, Mass., in 1917, according to the history section of Devaney's site.

Market Basket officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. The manager of the Hudson store on Lowell Road, Martin Maguire, didn't know about Devaney's site but thought it was a good idea.

"I think it's great that someone did that," Maguire said.

Maguire said he's never known why Market Basket doesn't have a website but suspects it is so that money can go into other parts of the business.

"They try to keep operating costs down so it can be put into the pricing," he said. "We try to keep our prices as low as possible."

That's fine by Devaney, who is now making a tidy sum with the site and puts in next to no work on it.

Not only is the advertising hands-off, even the weekly flier and coupons are posted by visitors to the site. All he does is run contests and raffles to help drive surfers to the site, Devaney said.

"It's basically a turn-key business," he said.

Devaney said he hopes to sell the site to Market Basket but so far hasn't gotten a response to a number of inquiries, though it's nice that it brings in some money in the interim.

"In the end it would be really great if they were actively online in the 21st century," he said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.