Fulton County

Tops brings Friendly Markets back to region

A dozen former Grand Union supermarkets in small Adirondacks communities, including Corinth and Nort

A dozen former Grand Union supermarkets in small Adirondacks communities, including Corinth and Northville, have become Tops Friendly Markets, company officials announced Tuesday.

The grocery stores are all in eastern Adirondack towns without other major grocers, and marks Tops’ return to a region it operated in for a few years but left after a 2006 corporate transaction.

“We really do believe in smaller stores that are properly sized for the communities they serve,” said Tops President and CEO Frank Curci. “These markets really are centers of gravity for these small communities.”

Tops, which is based in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, acquired the stores in October, but is only now rolling out the identity change, after painting, repaving parking lots and making other cosmetic upgrades.

Company officials said Tuesday the Warrensburg store will be getting about $500,000 worth of remodeling, starting this month — and over time, other stores will see similar investments.

The stores, which average 20,000 to 25,000 square feet in size, generally date from the 1960s. While small by modern suburban supermarket standards, they’re the right size for the communities they serve, Curci said.

The stores all have in-store bakeries and delis, as well as fresh meat and produce and grocery staples.

Curci said the Corinth and Northville stores have seen base-level improvements to date, but there will be more to come.

“They’re good stores,” he said. “Over the coming years, you’ll see more money invested in them.”

Other stores now under the Tops brand are in Bolton Landing, Chestertown, North Creek, Schroon Lake, Elizabethtown, Peru, Ausable Forks and Saranac Lake, where there are two. Grand re-opening ceremonies were held at all the locations Tuesday.

All the markets were part of the Grand Union supermarket chain before Grand Union filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Tops operated them from 2001-06, when they were sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H., which operated them as Grand Union Family Markets New York.

Tops was under European ownership when the stores were sold, Curci said. Now under independent ownership, Tops decided last summer to re-acquire them in a deal that also included nine stores in western Vermont and other parts of eastern New York.

Reflecting the seasonal nature of much of the Adirondack economy, Curci said sales at the Adirondack stores double or triple during the summer months.

For people who haven’t visited one of the Adirondack markets since last summer, “we’ve really improved the whole shopping experience,” he said.

Tops has 159 stores in upstate New York, western Vermont and northern Pennsylvania.

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