Still Some Hope For Downtown Grocery

By: Brian Golden

Still some hope for downtown grocery

NORWICH – Due to the efforts of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Norwich residents and employees of P&C have a little breathing room concerning the announced closing of the downtown grocery.

Penn Traffic, which owns several chains of stores including P&C supermarkets, has agreed to drop its push for a low-ball liquidation bid, which would have shuttered stores and tossed workers out. Earlier this week, Penn Traffic and GE Capital, its main creditor, received a letter from Schumer strongly opposing the liquidation bid and urging all parties to adhere to a Jan. 22 deadline for the submission of bids that would save the most jobs, according to a press release from the senator’s office.

In addition, bids on the stores have already been reported, possibly saving most, if not all of the stores.

“Tops Markets is very interested in acquiring Penn Traffic’s assets, including its 79 locations,” stated Katie McKenna, communications and public relations for the Williamsville-based Tops chain. “We cannot speculate about or comment on any outcome at this point.”

Tops Markets is expected to place its bid later today. Any sale of Penn Traffic’s assets will require the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

Syracuse-based Penn Traffic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November and notified state officials that it will close 53 P&C and Quality Markets in central and western New York by Feb. 15.

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Tops Supermarkets is offering to buy the entire P&C chain while Price Chopper is bidding on 22 stores – not including the one in Norwich. The P&C Supermarket at 54 East Main St. employs 64 union and 2 non-union workers. P&C has operated in Norwich since April of 2006, when it replaced the original Tops Friendly Markets.

“We are not across the goal line yet, but it looks like the components are all coming together to save thousands of jobs and dozens of grocery stores across Upstate New York,” said Schumer. “I am optimistic that by the end of tomorrow (Friday) we will see some very competitive bids.”

The senator’s optimism is shared by Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano.



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