Niagara Gazette — When Anthony DiMino moves through his supermarket, he’s constantly touching and rearranging products as he goes. Clearly a hands-on grocer, he knows the value of products well placed.
Dimino, owner of the Lewiston Tops, recently added $1.2 million in improvements to the Center Street store long-owned by his family, making fruit and vegetables more accessible, and as a result of new displays and presentations, produce sales are up nearly 20 percent, he said during a walk through his store on Monday.
The store is on its third remodel since the family acquired it in 1964 through Dimino’s father, Alphonso who was a founder of Tops Markets. It was recently upgraded with improvements that are unique to other Tops stores within the corporation.
“There’s not a produce department like this in the entire Tops company,” Dimino said proudly. He noted the changes were undertaken because “I felt that, based on my competition, which is Wegmans, I was tired of hearing how our produce was not as good.”
Basically, he explained, produce is the same in every store, no matter who owns it. “California lettuce is California lettuce,” he noted. The problem was not with the produce, it was with the presentation. So he did some independent research, shopping Kroger stores out west and creating a “dream store” with produce experts at the Tops Market Company, to come up with a renovation plan.
“I said to them, what would you do if you had an unlimited budget?” The finished result is a virtual wish list fulfilled, he said.
Ricky Wright, the produce field specialist for Tops, said the store now has the potential to present the largest organic variety of any of Tops 153 stores. “We wanted to really shout ‘organic variety’ in this store,” he said.
The recently unveiled changes in the produce department offer a more boutique-like selection process, with most produce colorfully displayed in baskets or bins so that it can be hand selected in individual pieces. Also new are wall-size refrigeration cases which make other produce and related items more easily seen and selected. The cases are easily accessible through light-weight glass doors, and the vibrant colors of the products are showcased with LED lights. Customers have responded to the new presentation, he said.