LaVerde...s Sold to 660 Corporation
By Valery K. Brobbey
On Sunday, LaVerde’s Market will have a new owner but not a new name. Frank LaVerde, who opened LaVerde’s Market in 1988, is selling the store to 660 Corporation, which operates eleven convenience stores, including the one in MacGregor House. The sale of the convenience store, located on the first floor of the student center, is expected to be finalized on Sunday.
Chris Christensen, Director of Operations for 660 Corporation, declined to comment on the price that 660 Corporation paid for the store, saying only that “we were both happy” with the negotiated price. He said that the amount paid covered the terms of the current lease, LaVerde’s equipment, and the store’s current inventory. The terms of the lease allows LaVerde’s to remain in its current location for at least ten years.
LaVerde could not be reached for comment, though Christensen said that LaVerde, who is 67, is selling the store because he wishes to retire. Christensen said that Frank LaVerde’s main concern during the sale was for his staff and that all of the employees will continue to work at the store. Some will receive raises and additional benefits made possible by the fact that 660 Corporation is a larger company than the previously independently-owned LaVerde’s store, he said.
Because the space occupied by LaVerde’s is leased to the store by MIT, the transfer of the lease to 660 Corporation had to be approved by MIT. Christensen said he was confident of 660 Corporation’s ability to provide a “smooth transition” because the company already has a presence on the MIT campus, and he has previously worked with Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III on the MacGregor location.
Though customers will notice few immediate changes, 660 Corporation hopes to eventually add additional area to the food service section, including more prep area for sandwiches. “I see the [length of the] lines there as problematic,” Christensen said. He added that 660 Corporation is considering adding a fifth cash register. LaVerde’s will continue to operate during the same hours. Lottery tickets will be temporarily unavailable until the store obtains a lottery license, which could take three to four weeks. Christensen said that the delay is due to the fact that the person or company applying for a lottery license must own the store.
LaVerde’s started operations at MIT under a lease agreement with the Real Estate Office and does not fall under the jurisdiction of campus dining, though 660 Corporation, in its role operating MacGregor Convenience, does. Berlin said that he believes that the sale will give Campus Dining the opportunity to partner more closely with LaVerde’s.
“660 corporation turned a troubled operation into a strong business,” said Berlin, speaking about the MacGregor convenience store. “660 Corporation has a successful history of serving MIT,“ he continued. 660 Corporation took over the management of MacGregor Convenience two years ago after many companies had failed to make the store profitable. One of these companies was Bon App tit, which provides catering services for MIT. “Different companies have different strengths,” Berlin said.
Students give opinions
Many students praised LaVerde’s for offering a wide selection of goods. “LaVerde’s has everything you need,” said Michael Ghebrebrhan G, explaining that he was surprised to realize that the store carries first aid supplies.
Other factors contributing to LaVerde’s success are its location and its ability to accept TechCASH. “I come here because I can use my MIT card,” said Sultan Alkusayer, who is on a summer program at MIT.
The most popular complaint was that some of LaVerde’s items are too pricey, though many customers acknowledged that LaVerde’s is a business and has to be profitable. “This s*** is ridiculous,” said Ghebrebrhan, complaining about the four dollar price tag on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Marissa Vogt contributed to the reporting of this story.