Early Grand opening
Staff worked hard to open during Carnival
SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake’s Tops grocery store is now officially a Grand Union again.
The changeover from Tops Markets to Grand Union went quicker than expected due to hard work from the store staff. The freshly-rebranded grocery store was open Thursday, two days earlier than expected.
As customers shopped Thursday, the store was bustling with employees replacing labels, hanging signs and changing out displays.
The reopening was initially planned for Feb. 12., but store manager Mike Brown said they wanted to open in time for the second week of Winter Carnival. This was a tough week to close, he said. They wanted shoppers, and people want to shop during the event. He said that everyone worked extra hard to open two days early.
“We made it happen, don’t ask me how,” Brown said. But he knew. “I have a great team to make it happen.”
On Thursday, there were still Tops brand Best Yet signs up in the store.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Brown said.
He said all hands were on deck and some external people came in to help with the changeover. The store kept all the same employees as when it was a Tops — Brown was also the manager of the Tops. He said they’re also still hiring to fill staffing shortages.
There were still some “hiccups” — Brown was getting questions from employees about new store trainings.
He said the store will have lots of the same merchandise as before, with some new additions.
There will be a new Grand Union loyalty program and people’s Tops cards are not valid anymore.
Brown said the store will add curbside pickup soon.
The store plans to hold a grand opening event on March 3.
Why the change?
The Saranac Lake grocery 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 came 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 purchased these 12 stores and is 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.
C&S Wholesale Grocers spokesperson Lauren 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.