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Tops to Close Buffalo Store on One-Year Anniversary of Mass Shooting

Grocer also readies permanent memorial created with community, associate input
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
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May 14 marks the one-year anniversary of the massacre at a Tops store in Buffalo, N.Y.

On the occasion of a grim milestone, Tops Markets LLC is paying respect to the victims of the store shooting that took 10 lives and wounded at least three people. The grocer revealed that its Jefferson Avenue store in Buffalo, N.Y., the site of the racially motivated killings, will be closed on the one-year anniversary of the event, May 14.

“One year later, our hearts still ache for the victims, survivors, their families and our community, and we reflect with gratitude for everyone who responded to this hateful, racist attack with abundant love for our neighbors,” said John Persons, president of Tops Markets. “Our collective healing is helped by the way people in western New York came together and the way we continue to show up for each other. We are inspired by the ongoing resiliency of our associates, who have helped us carry forward the mission we’ve maintained since first opening this store: serving the needs of our community.”

To Persons’ point, the one-day closing of the store is a way to help the community, including survivors, store employees and first responders, continue to heal.  “As we remember the lives lost and altered on that day, we deepen our resolve to support and uplift the Jefferson Avenue community,” he added.

Another way that Tops is working to uplift the community is by installing a new permanent memorial at the store, which was fully renovated last summer to include a new layout and improved security features. The memorial was created by a local firm, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect PC, with a design influenced by a planning committee comprising community members, survivors, victims’ family members and Tops associates.

As it marks the occasion as a company, Tops is taking part in other events that recognize those affected by the hate crime perpetrated by an 18-year-old gunman. The grocer is participating in the state’s May 14 Memorial Commission that is working with community members and civic leaders to develop a structure that memorializes those who died in the attack.

On a broader level, Tops has partnered with local residents and groups over the past year to help address systemic obstacles faced by the community. Among other efforts, the retailer has expanded its focus on serving as a platform for Black-owned businesses.

“This has been an emotional time for our city, but most of all for the families and survivors impacted by the racially motivated mass shooting,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “I would like to thank Tops Friendly Markets President John Persons for his commitment to the community. I would also like to thank Diane Colgan, VP of Tops Friendly Markets, for her participation in our 5/14 Remembrance Committee and for her help with organizing 5/14 Remembrance Weekend. We hope the weekend of prayer, remembrance and reflection will help the continued healing for all of us.”

To meet the needs of community members on May 14, Tops will provide hourly free bus service from the parking lot at the Jefferson Avenue location to its nearby store on Elmwood Avenue. Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. that day.  The Jefferson Avenue store will reopen on Monday, May 15 at 7 a.m.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC has 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 44 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 

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