By Jim Kevlin • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
It looks like the Cooperstown area, which hosts both a Price Chopper and a Tops Friendly Market, will be an oddity with the merger of the two supermarket companies that was announced Monday, Feb. 9.
The two companies have “a footprint that’s almost perfectly contiguous,” with minimal overlap, Price Chopper/Market 32 President/CEO Scott Grimmett told the Albany Times Union.
With Price Chopper at Chestnut and Walnut in the village, and Tops 3.8 miles away in Cooperstown Commons, that wouldn’t be the case in Baseball Town, particularly since the corporate merger appears to end all competition in Otsego County north of Greater Oneonta, where the Price Chopper in Emmons competes with Hannaford, Aldi’s, BJ’s and Walmart.
“Right now, there are no plans to close any stores,” said Jonathan Pierce of Pierce Communications, Albany, which is handling press queries.
The only other supermarket in Northern Otsego is in Richfield Springs, also a Price Chopper.
Pierce said the merger is being examined by the Federal Trade Commission to assess its impact on the competitive picture.
Until the FTC gives the go-ahead to the merger, it won’t be complete. The company is saying it’s anticipating that may happen in the spring.
According to the FTC’s website, its “Bureau of Competition is committed to preventing mergers and acquisitions that are likely to reduce competition and lead to higher prices, lower quality goods or services, or less innovation.”
For now, Tops stores will continue to report to company headquarters in Williamsville, the Buffalo suburb, and Price Choppers to Schenectady, said Pierce. Any newly merged company that may emerge will be based in Schenectady, he said.
“By bringing the two companies together, they will be bigger,” Pierce continued. “When they sit down at the table with suppliers, they should have a bigger voice. That should play out to the benefit of the economy and its customers.”
He continued, “In total, this is a company that’s dedicated to New York State. It’s based in New York State. It’s a really exciting time.”
With the Price Chopper serving the Village of Cooperstown, and Tops better situated to attract Dreams Park families – it’s jammed during regular summers when the youth baseball camps are functioning – another question might be whether the merged company would be better served by building a new store between where the two are now.
In his remarks to the Times Union, Grimmett, who will be CEO of the combined company, emphasized the “long-term conversion of Price Chopper supermarkets to the Market 32 format” will continue.
Market 32s are upscale Wegman’s-like markets, with top produce, meat and fish, as well as gift shops and the like.