Sunday, March 7, 2010
I just went to the P&C in Syracuse where I used to work and discovered they had just ordered new carts with the Tops name on the handlebar. This may be a sign that the name will change. Also, Tops brand products are starting to come in, and Topco's Food Club (won't miss the soda), Paws (my cat has to have a special brand) and Valu Time (good riddance to the past sauce!) will no longer be available in my area. All other private labels from the Chicago-area based supplier remain, with the addition of their other no-frills brand Clear Value, which also replaced Always Save at Price Chopper in the Northeast (the unrelated chain in the heartland still have Always Save).
I'm hoping that the P&C, Quality, and BiLo/Riverside (not Tops' ex-sister chain) should be retired. I told Tops that they're the old guard and that many people are willing to say goodbye. It's still early days on all this and Tops spokeswoman Kate McKenna should eventually announce what the company's plans will be.
The last time Tops were in Onondaga County was 1986. Ironically, they sold their stores in my area to P&C. One is now a car dealer and another is a Big Lots. The rest I'm not sure. I was quite young! Tops had also been in Oswego, Madison, and Oneida counties. The Rome store bounced back and forth between Tops and P&C, but will be Tops for good really soon. It was feared that it would close, and even though it's a small town, it would not be convenient for everyone to go across town to Price Chopper, even on the bus, since many seniors walked to the store on NY 46 & 49 near Fort Stanwix. Like the former Hamilton store, some Grand Unions turned into Tops in 2001, only for some to change back or close. Under Koninklijke Ahold NV, Tops pulled out of the Mohawk Valley. They come full circle under Morgan Stanley.
In Pennsylvania, three BiLos are already using the new name, yet still take the Wild Card if not the Bonuscard, and have their ad much like that of P&C, except in the Keystone State, you can't buy drink there (except at off-licences) and you don't have to pay deposit on fizzy drinks or water. BiLos in Hallstead and Montrose are franchised, so they're not counted as official BiLos.
Some of these older stores will need pharmacy sections if they can fit it in. At the Shop City store I frequent, part of the store was partitioned off last year to save energy I believe, but I think it can be used again with the pharmacy there, and the dairy and health & beauty sections moved. If things can be manoeuvred in Auburn (pre-existing store) and Skaneateles, I think they can manage near me. Even smaller stores like Canton, PA, Syracuse near SU (former Peter's flagship), and DeWitt are too old to add to and there isn't room or land to build. I think the DeWitt one could move (see earlier post). However, some older people like the old school size as the behemoth Wegmans down the street is too big and overwhelming for them! The union is another story!
Bob Niedt from the local paper usually writes on this, and he inspired me to start this. I can't compete with him, really. He's a professional, and I'm an amateur. I can expand on his way of doing things, but still I'm lucky if anyone's even reading this.
With this acquisition should come self-checkouts, like at Price Chopper. I've used them in Auburn, Cortland, Fulton, and Williamsville. I know there'd be plenty of room in North Syracuse, Fayetteville, and Rome. Smaller ones like Cazenovia, Manlius, and Westvale may have to make room. We'll see how this plays out.
Tops' purchase of Penn Traffic's assets marks the end of an era, going back as far as Victorian times at a fur trading post in Johnstown, PA! The rest, as they say, is history!