January 27, 2010
P&C customers hope city stores stay open
Tops decision expected by Friday on which of the 79 P&C stores it will close
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Karen Conklin of McGraw walks with groceries purchased from P&C Foods in the Riverside Plaza Tuesday. Conklin believes Tops Markets and P&C Foods will combine the best from both stores when they merge.
Shoppers in the two P&C supermarkets in the city said Tuesday that they hope the stores stay open, mainly because their locations make them convenient.
Buffalo-based Tops Markets has struck an agreement to buy from Penn Traffic all of its 79 stores, including those operated under the P&C name, for $85 million.
Tops officials have said they plan to keep the majority of P&C stores open, but have not indicated which ones they plan to close. Penn Traffic and Tops signed a confidentiality agreement that says for the time being neither party will release the names of the stores that Tops will close.
“It is Tops’ intention to run as many stores and retain as many jobs as possible. Tops will be diligently evaluating all 79 locations, and decisions regarding operation of these stores and what name will be carried by stores in the future will be determined based on what makes the best business sense,” Tops spokeswoman Katie McKenna said Tuesday.
McKenna said that commenting on specific locations would be premature before the deal closes. It is expected to be finalized by Friday.
The P&C on Homer Avenue and the P&C in the Riverside Plaza on Clinton Avenue are the only supermarkets within city limits.
Dave Muraco, who owns the Riverside Plaza, and Nicholas Slottje, director of a real estate investment trust that owns the P&C on Homer Avenue, were unavailable to comment Tuesday on the future of the stores.
Sally Potter, a city resident who works in the cafeteria at Homer Intermediate School, said she hopes the P&C store on Homer Avenue stays open and does not change very much under its new ownership.
“I want the P&C to stay here because we don’t have anything on this side of town,” Potter said in the P&C parking lot Tuesday. “I’m hoping to keep it because it’s my main store and I hate to change.”
Potter added that she would like to see the same products offered if the store is run by Tops.
She said she likes the lean ground beef at P&C and has been buying extra packages of meat lately to freeze it in case the store shuts down.
Diane Lewis, a Homer resident, said she shops at the Homer Avenue store for its proximity to her home, but also goes to the Clinton Avenue store for the bakery and movie rental box.
“I’m hoping (they stay open),” Lewis said. “We’ve come to these stores for so long it’s kind of disappointing to have them out of business after all these years.”
Robert Garner, a retired Smith Corona electrician and Cortland resident, said it is much easier for him to go to the Homer Avenue store than the supermarkets in Cortlandville or the Clinton Avenue P&C.
“I’m in my 80s, and it’s not real easy to chase across town to other stores,” Garner said.
Karen Conklin, a McGraw resident who often shops at the Clinton Avenue store, said she thinks the stores that Tops continues to operate will be “hybrids” and incorporate the best aspects of Tops and P&C.
When she worked at the Kmart store on Route 13, the company purchased Sears. The Kmart improved after the merger by doing the same thing, Conklin said.
Kim Klinger, a Cortland resident and day-care provider, said she hopes the employees keep their jobs under the new ownership, and that they receive a good compensation package if either store closes.
Klinger said she would not mind if the store was reorganized and carried different products as a Tops.
“I would be happy with any mainstream grocery store (in this location),” Klinger said.
Burt Flickinger III, managing director for Strategic Resource Group, a retail consultant and analyst based in New York City, said it could benefit Tops to keep the P&C name on its new stores.
“It may make sense to keep P&C, which has been one of the market leaders since after World War II in midstate or Central New York,” Flickinger said.
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