Tops to close during Winter Carnival

Grocery store to transition into Grand Union; closure will last from Feb. 6 to 12

Almost 21 years ago, on April 2, the Grand Union supermarket sign at the Church Street grocery store was replaced with a Tops Markets sign. This winter, the signs will again trade places, as the company which owns the Grand Union name is reviving the brand and purchasing its old Saranac Lake building. (Enterprise file photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — The Tops Markets grocery store on Church Street will close down from Feb. 6 to 12 next month as it transitions into a Grand Union once again.

The store is currently decked out in signs notifying patrons of the six-day closure, which starts at 3 p.m. Feb. 6. It will reopen the following Sunday under new ownership and a new name. Well, it’s an old name that’s become new again.

This closure comes right in the middle of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, a fact that was not lost on locals seeing the signs this week.

“Wow, busy time in town to be closing,” Anne Marie Nightingale wrote on Facebook.

Some Saranac Lakers suggested people stock up on groceries in the week before the closure. Others were offering rides to friends and neighbors to get them to other stores that week.

Darcie Lawrence pointed out that Tops is the only store in walking distance for many of the village’s residents living downtown.

“We can provide more context in the coming weeks,” Lauren La Bruno, a spokesperson for C&S Wholesale Grocers, the store’s new owner, wrote in an email.

The store will hold a grand opening event on March 3.

The Saranac Lake location has actually been a Grand Union twice before.

There used to be a Grand Union in each of the Tri-Lakes towns. The building Tops is currently in, in Saranac Lake, used to be one of them. In 2001, after Grand Union filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy several times in the 1990s to 2000s, they all changed hands to Tops Markets.

Now, Grand Union is under new ownership, and C&S Wholesale Grocers is reviving the brand.

The sale of the store comes because of a merger between Tops Markets and Price Chopper/Market 32. The Federal Trade Commission and state Attorney General Letitia James approved the merger last year, with the condition that the new, combined company divest from 12 stores, including the Saranac Lake one.

C&S Wholesale Grocers is purchasing these 12 stores and reviving the long-defunct Grand Union Supermarkets brand, operating the stores through GU Markets LLC, an affiliate of C&S which runs Grand Union Supermarkets.

The Tops/Price Chopper merger was forged to increase both companies competitiveness on the Northeast, doubling their collective footprint in the region.

Prior to this merger deal, Tops Markets had been struggling financially. In 2018, Tops Markets filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which permitted the business to stay open while paying its debts.

Later that year, Tops closed its second Saranac Lake location on Lake Flower Avenue, saying it was underperforming, but kept the Church Street location, less than 2 miles away, open.

La Bruno said the store’s new owners will continue to recognize the United Food and Commercial Workers District Union Local 1, the union that represents workers at Tops and Rite Aid. Employees working there will keep their jobs under the new ownership.

Bruno said the new Grand Union will “offer competitive prices on a wide variety of fresh foods and an extensive assortment of brand name groceries,” plus the store’s “signature private brands,” and “localized assortments to meet their shoppers’ needs.”


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