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WNBF NewsRadio reports that when a Tops supermarket in Oswego, New York, that has just been acquired by C&S Wholesale Grocers is reopened early next year, it will be rebranded as a Grand Union - reviving a storied retail name that fell into disrepute over the years and virtually vanished two decades ago.

The Tops store is one of a dozen that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said had to be sold when Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops completed their merger this week.  C&S is acquiring all of them - and reportedly will revive the Grand Union banner when rebranding all of them.

Grand Union was originally founded in 1872 as the Jones Brothers Tea Company.

KC's View:

The decline of Grand Union strikes me as a classic case of how various ownerships and managements - driven, it seemed, by their own economic interests and very little focus on a) what consumers needed and b) how consumers were changing - managed to achieve what can only be described as peak FUBAR.

We had one here in my Connecticut town when we moved here 37 years ago, and I remember it being one of the crappiest supermarkets I'd ever been into.

This is an interesting opportunity for C&S, but I do think that it cannot rely on nostalgia as it reintroduces the banner - at least in part because I cannot imagine many people remember Grand Union fondly, and those that do are likely close to death.  Not exactly a desirable target market.

This is a moment to be grand in terms of relentless customer focus, and to use these 12 stores as a laboratory for what 21st century retailing can be.  They cannot think defensively, but they do have to be aware of the possibility that Kroger could bring its pure-play e-grocery venture to these markets (it has said it is coming to the northeastern US, though has not been specific about precisely where), and the certainty that Amazon's and Walmart's e-commerce engines also are on the playing field.