ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca and Tompkins County should consider themselves lucky this time around; the recently-announced closures of Tops Friendly Market locations includes neither of their local stores.
The supermarket chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in February, and in May, a bankruptcy judge gave the suburban Buffalo-based company permission to close supermarkets as needed. However, the company did not at that time say which stores would close.
Tops, headquartered in suburban Buffalo, employed 14,262 at the time of the bankruptcy filing, mostly at its 169 corporate-owned and five franchise store locations across New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont. Locally, Tops has two locations – at 710 South Meadow Street in the city of Ithaca, and at 2300 North Triphammer Road in the village of Lansing. Both stores were recently renovated.
Of the ten stores that are now slated for closure as of last week’s announcement, three are in the Syracuse area, four in the Rochester area, and a Tops location is scheduled to close in Geneva, Elmira and Saranac Lake. The closings, which will be completed by the end of November 2018, are expected to result in the loss of some 600 jobs throughout upstate New York.
The supermarket chain cited those ten supermarkets as “underperforming” locations. “The vast majority of our stores are profitable and we are seeing strong customer support continue to drive growth in these locations,” Tops CEO Frank Curci said in a prepared statement. “That said, there are a few stores that are not performing to our standards, due to a number of factors including location, store size, lack of visibility and lease costs.” The statement added that Tops would work with affected staff who may wish to work at nearby locations, though in the case of Elmira, that may not be viable given the 34-mile trek to the South Meadow Street location.
The current intent is that the remaining 159 locations will remain open, but the company is legally permitted to close additional stores as necessary as it deals with its bankruptcy. The Buffalo News reports that Tops has been negotiating with several of its landlords to reduce rent payments in an effort to cut its operating costs.