BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo mayor Brown gave hearty praise to Tops on Tuesday for the “very impressive” renovations being made at the Jefferson Avenue store that has been closed since the mass shooting on May 14, adding that the store remains on pace to reopen in late July.
“I will continue to shop at the store periodically,” Brown said, though he understands others will have reservations. He said he felt some trepidation and concern recently when returning for a tour, but “instantly, as I got to the front door, it was different.”
“Everybody is not going to feel the same way,” Brown said. “Everyone is not going to feel comfortable coming back to the store, and we certainly understand that. But thousands of people in the community rely on that shopping option. And I give Tops tremendous credit for listening to the community, listening to their customers, listening to their employees and changing just about every single thing you can think about in that store so that when people do come to the store it will look and feel like a brand new store.”
Brown said he was impressed with the changes he saw on his tour.
“The store looks completely different inside,” he said. “It does not look like the same store on the interior, and there are also substantially exterior renovations being done.”
He also said there will be “considerable enhanced security measures” implemented that Tops will announce at a later date.
Asked specifically which improvements he liked, Brown listed numerous changes:
“More open in some areas, more offerings of food, more food cases, organic foods, more products in many different varieties, new lighting, LED lighting, reorganizing where many things were located, new flooring, new painting, new shelving,” he said. “Most of what is in the store is new and different.”
Brown also said Tops replaced every single product that was on shelves at the time of the attack.
“All of the product from before was completely replaced,” he said. “Every product in the store is 100% new and fresh.”
Brown said he thinks employees will feel more comfortable with the increased security measures, adding a “large number” of previous employees want to come back to the store. He said Tops has been welcoming employees back on Fridays to look at the changes being made.
“They really have integrated everything they heard from the community into how they have redesigned the store. That’s a great thing,” Brown said. “This is a difficult situation. People are still mourning. People are still hurting. I think, though, Tops has done everything they can do to listen to the community, to respect the wishes of the community and to redesign the store in a way that not only has a new look and feel but gives people many more products than they were able to purchase at the store previously.”
Brown did not have any news about alternative shopping options coming to the area for those who won’t return to Tops, but said: “We think this horrible event has also opened the eyes of the corporate community, the retail community, the grocery community, to look at the opportunities for investment and making money that exists in 14208 and exists in other city zip codes.”