BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — The Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo announced the store will re-open on Friday with added security measures.

The store put in more surveillance, emergency exits, and new lighting in the parking lot, among other security measures after the mass shooting that occurred at the store in May.

The President of Tops, John Persons, did not decide to re-open without revamping security.

“We are the first retail store that we’re aware of — to actually have an emergency evacuation alarm system. If there happens to be an emergency — it is a visual and audio alert that will notify all of our associates and all of our customers that they are to leave the premises right away,” he said.

Persons said 75% of the staff have returned to work since the shooting. The weight of what happened here is still heavy.

“We want our associates to come back to work when they feel ready,” Persons said.

State Attorney General Letitia James, while honoring the victims from May, said today is a significant day for Buffalo. 

“What is so great about today — is really about how this community came together in the aftermath of a tragedy — and they turned pain into progress,” said James.

The Tops President of Operations, Mike Patti, said this area of Buffalo is a ‘food desert’. Access to quality nutrition is scarce and Tops wants to continue its commitment to customers.  

“…So when the tragedy happened, we thought it was absolutely the right thing to do,” said Patti.

Shannon Bryant with Kaleida Health said the well-being of the residents here matters a great deal and much of that starts with food. 

“It’s very difficult to get out of your direct neighborhood to go and access healthy food. So this was necessary,” said Bryant.

Inside the store is a memorial; a ‘water wall’ with a poem etched in stone to honor the 10 victims who were killed. Persons said he wanted to give Buffalo back a store that meant so much while never ignoring what happened here. 

“We wanted to do it in a very respectful and honorable way,” he said.


Poem on ‘Water Wall’ by Poet Laureate | Buffalo, NY Jillian Hanesworth:

Let the hopeful healing waters flow

Ushering in a rebirth of our sense of self

Let the flowing waters remind us of time

Current yet fleeting like life itself

Large yet within reach just as the ancestors

Let the hopeful healing waters flow

Cleansing all pain and fear

All hurt and regret

Let the water heal our people

Reminding us that even our small marks

on this huge world are necessary

Let the hopeful healing waters flow

Let the water tell the stories of those that came before us

Those who fought and believed for us

Those with the strength and power of a high tide

Those with the meekness of a still pond

Let the beauty of the unknown offer comfort and hope

For within water there will always be life