SOUTHINGTON — Plans for a new Tops Market under construction include a drive-up window for online orders, more prominent prepared meals cases and a streamlined rewards program.
As construction crews work on the new market’s steel structure on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, owners John Salerno and Betsy Tooker are designing the interior. Salerno hopes to open by February. The previous building was destroyed in a fire earlier this year.
While the new building’s footprint is largely the same, store owners are making some changes to the interior. Buyers are busier, Salerno said, and are looking for services beyond groceries on shelves. Prepared foods, both hot and ready-to-heat, will be given a more prominent location in the new store.
There will also be online ordering for food and groceries. Customers will be able to use a drive-up window at the store, Salerno said, or get their order delivered.
“The new Tops is going to be really accentuated on the prepared food, both cooked and uncooked,” he said.
Tops was the first store in town with a loyalty card, Salerno said, but the store is now doing away with them in favor of a 5 percent discount coupon on orders of $50 or more. That’s a simpler way of rewarding repeat customers, he said.
“For a customer who shops at the store frequently, you’re constantly getting that 5 percent,” Salerno said.
Tops has continued its catering business since the fire. The new building will have a room for meeting with catering customers, according to Salerno.
Barbara Hekeler, Southington Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the rebuild was a great opportunity to revamp the store and turn a loss into a gain.
“There are a lot of exciting things that are happening with Betsy and John,” Hekeler said. “They’re following the trends in business and bringing (Tops) up to modern day which is great.”
She agreed that meals and other convenience services were what customers increasingly want.
“People are busier than ever. They’re looking for prepared foods,” Hekeler said.
The store’s insurance didn’t cover the entirety of the rebuild so Salerno took out additional loans to get a new building. Once construction began, he’s been surprised how quickly it’s moved.
“I couldn’t believe how fast they got that steel up,” he said. “By Tuesday, it looked like a building already.”
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