By Joshua Maloni
DiMino Tops Lewiston, the Village of Lewiston's biggest store and largest employer, has been transformed.
"This is the third consecutive year that we've put money into the store," owner Anthony DiMino said. "We remodeled one section; then another section; new décor last year. ... We think we're pretty much where we have to be. We put a lot of money back into the store."
This one takes the cake. Well, technically, customers will now take their own cakes out of walk-in coolers. But you catch our drift.
"The point of the remodel is to position ourselves to when new trends and new things are coming on, that we're current," DiMino said. "When you start - even from the vestibule inside - everything was done differently than we did before."
Before customers enter Tops, they'll see new enclosed entranceways designed to deter heavy winds and cold weather.
Once inside the lobby, shoppers will find new displays of seasonal items along the interior walls.
As consumers enter the store, they'll notice change in three directions. In front, the 44-foot product wall is gone, replaced with 14 satellite displays themed with relevant seasonal merchandise. Right now, the islands are filled with holiday products.
"We're trying to be as sleek and as easy to shop the store as possible," DiMino said.
"It's different types of ways to getting a customer to see maybe a meal or an idea," he added. "Once you walk into the store, obviously, you can see the change immediately."
To the right, the customer service counter is gone. It's moved over to the left side. In front of it sits two sections of larger U-Scan self-checkout lanes.
Farther down is a new merchandise cove, which contains seasonal, Buffalo sports-related and hometown items and party goods.
In the back left corner is a large beer station.
"We went with a walk-in cooler just like major beer sellers," DiMino said. "We're going to have a growler program; we've got a bar, beer tastings and a lot of things going on throughout the whole year."
At the back of the store, customers will find a more spread-out bakery, a spruced-up carryout café and those glass-encased cakes.
"We did merchandising changes in every department in the store," DiMino said.
The meat and seafood section has new islands. Some are filled with giant frozen turkeys.
It's also at the back of the store where guests will find new bathrooms.
"We couldn't do the remodel without moving the bathroom," DiMino said. "They're all nice looking. Nice décor. Clean and organized."
Behind the bathrooms, DiMino had construction crews build a second floor. He's moved the management offices up there and added an employee break room. The lunch area has a window that looks out onto the store and an elevator for those unable to walk upstairs.
Back out into the market, the frozen food shelves are gravity-fed, so products are up front and center.
"It's easy for the consumer to see the actual item," DiMino said. "It pushes it forward."
Aisles have been trimmed and adjusted to allow for more walking room and display space.
Overall, DiMino said he's received positive feedback from shoppers.
"Everybody's excited," he said. "They should be excited. I don't build these things for myself. I build it for my customers."
He added, "Whatever it takes to make sure that the customer is taken care of, that's what we're going to do."
New cake displays
DiMino said Tops corporate also is "very happy."
"The things that they're looking at, if it works here, they'll apply it there," he said.
"I think we're the most progressive grocery store in the Tops chain," DiMino explained. "There's no doubt about that. I try things. I spend things. I go all over the country looking at grocery stores. As boring as it might seem to other people, I do that all the time.
"I have to give people a reason to stay below the hill. The only way I know how to do that is to have the best store in the area.
"If you don't believe me, come and see us."
Renovations on the nearly 50,000-square-foot supermarket began last spring.
DiMino Tops Lewiston is located at 906 Center St.