Tops stores to close in month

Michelle Park

Don’t count on the Bonus Card for area savings in 24 days.

The Tops Market on South Water Street and another on West Main Street in Ravenna will close by Feb. 12, Tops spokeswoman Stefanie Zakowicz said. Four other stores — in Akron, Cleveland and Madison — will close as well.

Within the competitive market in Northeast Ohio, the stores were under-performing, Zakowicz said.

“It (closing the stores) is certainly a positive move for the company overall,” she said. “When you have under-performing stores, it drains a lot of your resources. Once those stores are closed, we can really focus on those stores that are doing better in the market.”

Tops will have 49 stores in the area after the six stores close.

While the move may be good for the company overall, the decision to close the stores was difficult to make, Zakowicz said.

“Obviously, no retailer likes to close stores,” she said. “It’s a painful move to make. It’s difficult because we impact a lot of lives: those of our customers and those of our associates.”

There are 390 positions in the six stores, and many of them are unionized positions, Zakowicz said. For the displaced employees, there are openings in area stores. Early retirement is also an opportunity for some.

“When all is said and done, we hope to have a lot of those associates remain with the organization,” she said.

A manager at the Kent Tops declined to comment and said other employees were not permitted to comment either.

Shoppers, however, were vocal.

Senior psychology major Alisha Wright said she shops at the Kent Tops about 10 times per month and is unhappy with the news.

“This is the only grocery store I shop at because I live in Allerton, and it’s easier driving a couple blocks,” she said. “Now, Giant Eagle and Acme are going to be the only choices. ”

Students are not the only ones disappointed with the closings.

Barbara Refi, 65, lives in Tower 43 in Kent across the street from Tops. She said the change will be especially inconvenient for senior citizens living in the high rise.

“I come here mostly, unless I see a special sale,” she said. “But see, I have a car, and a lot of them don’t.”

The Charter One Bank in Tops and its employees will not necessarily leave with the grocery store, employee Beth Myers said. A conference call with corporate headquarters is scheduled for this morning.

Contact public affairs reporter Michelle Park at [email protected].