8/12/2010

FTC to Tops: That's not a smart way to grow.

Posted by Black Phillip

This almost slipped under my radar...

LOCKPORT — Tops Markets will have to sell seven former Penn Traffic stores, including the Quality Markets on Rochester Road, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday.

Besides Lockport, the Williamsville-based grocery store chain will have to sell stores in Bath, Cortland and two stores in Ithaca, and a pair of stores in Sayre, Penn. The FTC’s concern is that those areas wouldn’t have any competition if Tops kept the Penn Traffic stores. That would lead to higher prices for consumers, the FTC said.
Sooo..... Tops Markets was forced to sell some of the old Quality Markets locations (including the Lockport location) because of the lack of competition in the market.

Gee, I'm sure glad the "Smart Growth" people are fighting to keep the federally recognized Tops monopoly going.

-Erik

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, just great. I'm sure Wegmans or super-walmart-china will buy Quality and go there just to increase competition.
Did anybody see the explanation of why our economy is diving again? To many imports, no exports. How much does Walmart contribute to that?

Anonymous said...

I really hope they keep the Quality Markets as a good grocery store. My parents live near there and it's wonderful for the people in that area. Hoping that it stays open.

Rocketboy said...

Anon 8:37... I think you've been watching Lou Dobbs too much. The guy who said that the main reason Buffalo is still going downhill is due to imports, while ignoring the very large political problems that Buffalo has. And this was in the middle of the Red vs Green budget fiasco. Complaining about the lack of manufacturing base is akin to complaining about the lack of horse whip manufactures. Also, it's rather overblown. Yes, we do not manufacture as much direct consumer goods. But direct consumer goods isn't what the economy is built on. Not to mention the cost of labor in the US. The US strives on jobs that require brainpower. Not simple physical tasks. That's just a natural evolution of a society.

Anon 10:23... Well, Tops has to sell it to someone who has an intent to keep it a grocery store.

Either way, this again reinforces that Tops is behind Smart Growth as a way to keep Lockport a captive market.

MJ said...

I always wonder why people pick on Walmart when every other retail store does the same thing. Are they that delusional? Been to Home Depot lately? Target? Kohls? Kmart? Take a walk down the utensil isle at Tops and tell me how many things you find that are not made in China. The only difference between Tops and Walmart is that Tops will charge you 2x as much for it. Or maybe they will put it on "sale" once every 4 months to make you feel good.

Quality was never really competition. They had the same format as Tops. Charge 2x as much for everything and then have a sale once in a while.

As for Walmart, it can't come soon enough. Driving to Erie county for food is getting old.

LockportGal said...

We drive to the Super-Walmart often. Our Walmart never has the Sams Club soda I want..and my dogs food is cheaper at the super walmart than it is here in town.

Anonymous said...

We actually drive to the Super Walmart in Albion - seems to be lower prices and takes us just as long to drive there as it does to drive to Amherst (we live on the east end of town) and far less traffic, much less hectic!

MJ said...

I "try" to shop in a hybrid manner though some weeks don't allow for it.

The usual stuff like paper towels, boxed food, frozen food, etc I prefer to buy at a supermarket for the least I can in one big weekly trip.

Other stuff I view differently and use as an opportunity to support local offerings. Some examples:

Dog food we go to Pets Plus because I like having a pet store in the city. If I pay $5-10 more every two months it's worth helping maintain a city option.

For fish we head over to Montandos which has some of the best fresh shrimp ever. For produce and meat we try to go Niagara Produce. Not only are the offerings usually fresher, they are at times even cheaper. A nice surprise for a smaller operation. I love having these two options in the city.

Laurie said...

I am on board with Montandos and Niagara Produce.

and it hurts me to buy big box out of town dog and cat food, but Pets Plus? Is that the reptile place on the west side? It will be a big boon to hear that it is not as dirty/dangerous as I've been led to believe by others and the outside appearance.

MJ said...

I know of the bad rap Pets Plus gets, but I have never had a problem, seen dead animals, or whatever other stories are floating around out there. Back when I had a snake I used to buy mice there and now that we have the dog I try to get the dog food there. Customer service has always been fine in my experiences.

Growing up in Buffalo and going to places like Seneca St Pet Shop etc I'm used to small places that do not look like a big box pet store or smell as sterile as one so maybe I have a different set of expectations?

They do offer a wide variety of animals. I was surprised when I first moved here. Even if they do have some problems to work out, I still find their presence an asset.

LockportGal said...

I often buy my dog food at Town & Country, but we go to Pets Plus often for our dog stuff and fish supplies.

DocWu said...

MJ wrote: "Dog food we go to Pets Plus because I like having a pet store in the city. If I pay $5-10 more every two months it's worth helping maintain a city option."

I hate to say it, but you're being a little hypocritical. If you can see the benefits of supporting a local merchant even though it costs a little more, why are you so against Tops and so happy to have Wally-World come and put up it's super center?

You also keep saying Tops is 2x as expensive. That's a gross exaggeration. If that was true, they'd have gone out of business long ago.

What Tops does offer is decent wages in a Union shop and a clean store with fair prices. Have you seen the clowns working in Wal Mart lately? I get the creeps dealing with their cashiers.

Calling Tops a monopoly while ignoring Wal Mart's business practices is absurd. Wal Mart is practically a monopoly in Lockport already. The only area they haven't succeeded (yet) is groceries and they're on the way to doing that. Where else in Lockport can you go to buy men's clothing? BonTon? Only because they're the only business they couldn't drive out of the mall. Next you'll rag on that store for their prices. You can't have it both ways.

Maybe you can, when Wal Mart eliminates all their competition and raises their prices when you have no where else to go.

[Disclosure: I have not nor ever have worked for Tops, but several relatives do. I have not nor ever have worked for WalMart, nor will I ever sink so low. I am a union member. I cringe whenever I have to go there because there is nowhere else to get some things. I am not nor ever have been a member of Smart Growth, nor do I have any knowledge of who might be. ;-)]

Anonymous said...

Hey MJ,

If possible, could you post a poll asking the readers if they had a choice between a WalMart super center or a Wegmans, which would you choose? We already have a WalMart for the general merchandise and I wonder if the people would prefer a Wegmans over a super center. While I doubt Wegmans would ever come here I think it's an interesting question.

Rocketboy said...

Doc.. At least you are honest that you don't like Walmart because they are not union. And at least you are being (almost) honest that Smart Growth has NOTHING to do with zoning laws, but is based on a misplaced hate for Walmart.

Although you can find just as many "clowns" working at Tops as you can Walmart, and there are quite a few people that work at Tops that give me the "creeps" as well. But even the FTC recognizes that Tops has a monopoly over this area. When Walmart gets a monopoly, it's a natural monopoly. Either they move into an area w/o much (or any) pre-existing competition, or due to the economies of scale, they are able to offer more goods at a cheaper price. Tops and Budways very specifically fight to keep competitors (ie: Super Walmart) out of an area. Quiet a bit different scenario.

Also.. look anywhere.. small malls are dissapearing. The Lockport Mall was on the down slope BEFORE Walmart came to town. Just like Hills, KMart, and Ames. They didn't leave Lockport because Walmart came. They left because of terrible decisions made many years before Walmart appeared.

Walmart didn't close the Lockport Mall. Changing consumer needs and expectations did.

(PS: So, do you like shopping at Target? Are you not bothered that Bon Ton isn't union? Or is it only Walmart where the "clowns" give you the "creeps"?)

(PPS: You know what happens when I don't want to shop somewhere? I don't. I don't need a small but rich gang of special interest groups blocking legal businesses. I'm a big boy, I can decide for myself. And if I need coddling, I have a real mother and father to go to. Not some lying greedy organization.)

(PPPS: Yes, I'm not a fan of unions. Like the union where I once worked (they are closed... maybe something to do with the fact it took three shifts to make sure a nut was on a piece of plastic...) where a union rep very 'gently' called me a liar because I refused to say anything but the truth about an employee who was a known drunk.)

MJ said...

Yes I was exagerating ;) I've taken the prices from a Wegman's receipt and compared them at Walmart and Tops. For a $200 Wegman's bill I'm looking at about $175 at Walmart and $250 at Tops. This is with any "reward cards" but ignoring any sales. I like to buy what I want when I want. Give me consistant pricing over gimicky sales. Of coarse this is only one sample but when ever we go to Tops because of a lack of time my fiance often looks at the receipt and asks "what did we just buy?" with a shocked look on her face. I do question sometimes how they stay in business. My guess it is those who like to wait around for the sales to stock up or just don't see that they aren't really big sales when you count the initial over pricing.

I'm cool for paying the extra $25 for the shopping experience at Wegmans. Since we will not be getting one of those I'd be estatic for the Supercenter to save the drive to Erie County.

My mom worked at a Tops for a while. After union dues she wasn't making much more than she would have at Walmart. Wegman's is not unionized last I knew and somehow they end up consistantly in the Top 10 of Fortune's 500 best places to work. As for the little guys, somehow Niagara Produce has figured out how to compete with great prices and fresh merchandise.

As for Bon-ton, they offer better clothing than Walmart so I'd expect higher prices (though like most other stores most things are imports there too). Just as I'd then expect higher prices at Banana Republic for clothing Etc. But Bounty Paper Towels are Bounty Paper Towels regardless if you are charging me $10 or $14 for the package. I'll pay the extra $4 at a smaller local store (like Pets Plus) but will not when choosing between basic goods at big boxes.

If you consider that hypocritical, then so be it. :)

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