Local Grand Unions changing name to Tops – again

SARANAC LAKE – After switching from Grand Union to Tops and back to Grand Union, local supermarkets are about to have their names changed back to Tops.

The announcement appears in this week’s GU sale flyer, set to be inserted into Saturday’s Enterprise and this week’s Lake Placid News.

July 2 is the day of the grand reopening as Tops Friendly Markets at the two stores in Saranac Lake and the one in AuSable Forks, according to managers there.

The GU sign on the front of the Church Street, Saranac Lake supermarket has been removed and facade improvements have been made, but no new sign had been installed as of Wednesday afternoon. The stores in AuSable Forks and on Lake Flower Avenue, Saranac Lake, still have their GU signage, but they, too, are preparing for the switchover.

“They’re cleaning the front of our building right now,” said Office Manager Laura McLean at the AuSable Forks store.

Tops Friendly Markets announced last July that it had bought these and 18 other stores in upstate New York and Vermont from GU Markets LLC, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. Many of these 21 stores, including the local ones, were owned and branded by an older Grand Union company until it went under in 2001 and Tops bought the stores. In 2005, Tops sold them to C&S, a grocery wholesaler, which ran them under the Grand Union name, which it had acquired from the prior company’s bankruptcy.

Tops President and CEO Frank Curci told the Enterprise last July that the local stores would still be operated under the Grand Union name for the foreseeable future.

“The Tops name is not widely known in the area, even though we did operate in some of these stores,” Curci said from his office in Williamsville, near Buffalo, where Tops is based. “As time goes on, we’ll continue to evaluate whether we change the names or keep the current banners. But for the time being, we’ll keep them the way they are because they’re successful stores and we don’t want to do anything that will be upsetting to the customer.”

In a May 28 press release, Tops announced reopenings of nine GU stores under the Tops banner, four in Vermont and five in upstate New York: Greenville, Hancock, Stamford, Hoosick Falls, West Coxsackie and Tannersville.

Tops Markets LLC operates 159 supermarkets under the Tops, Grand Union and Bryant’s banners in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont.