Buffalo's Tops Friendly Market Is Ready To Reopen After Mass Shooting

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York has announced that it will finally reopen after a deadly mass shooting shuttered the neighborhood grocery store on May 14, 2022. Doors will open to shoppers about two months after a young gunman opened fire inside the beloved community store on Jefferson Avenue, killing 10 people and injuring three more, according to local Buffalo TV station WKBW.

Tops Market, which opened in 2003, has been way more than a grocery store, according to NPR, who noted community sentiments a week after the shooting. In an NPR interview, community member and "Say Yes to Education" affiliate Tommy McClam explained how Tops Friendly Market was a huge deal to the neighborhood, becoming a village "watering hole" in what was once a "food desert."

It took a lot of community muscle and perseverance to bring the first full-scale supermarket in decades to their neighborhood, with pastor and local historian Tim Newkirk telling NPR of signed petitions and local activists working relentlessly with Tops and government officials. A story in The Buffalo News days after opening day declared new hope for a better future in the "hardscrabble" African American community.

That hope was violently attacked on May 14, but it rises again with new promise just two months and one day later, on July 15, 2022.

What to expect

Company officials stated they would quietly and respectfully open Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Friday, notes WABE News, with Market representatives, local dignitaries, and community members attending a commemoration on Thursday, July 14, the day before shoppers return. A moment of silence and prayer will honor victims and store employees impacted by the violence.

Shoppers can expect changes in the 29,000-square-foot grocery store (via NPR). In June, Tops President John Persons revealed plans for a full remodel with a different appearance and ambiance, per WKBW. Workers cleared the store of all products and equipment for the refurbishment project, and supply chain problems arose along the way. Employees feeling uneasy about returning to work after the traumatic event of May 14 are welcome to relocate to one of many other Tops supermarkets, noted Persons.

Meanwhile, the shooting suspect, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, awaits trial for 26 criminal charges, including federal hate crimes, based partially on the suspect's own written manifesto revealing his choice of the Jefferson Street Tops Friendly Market. As per a June report by WKBW, Gendron targeted the store due to the density of Black people in the neighborhood.