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Tops Markets Dedicates 5/14 Honor Space

Sculpture at center of Tops Markets 5/14 Honor Space

Tops Friendly Markets dedicated the 5/14 Tops Honor Space on May 14 to honor the victims of the racially motivated attack at its Jefferson Avenue location in Buffalo, New York, in 2022.

Built and designed in collaboration with local partners and community members, it will serve as a place of honor, solace and reflection as the community continues its ongoing healing process.

Buffalo-based artist Valeria Cray and her son Hiram Cray, a faculty member at SUNY Corning, created the sculpture, entitled Unity, which has been installed at the center of the 5/14 Honor Space. The sculpture is a visual depiction of faith, hope and love. Tops Markets new 5/14 Honor Space

The Honor Space also features 10 granite honor bollards to forever remember the 10 individuals whose lives were cut short.

The ground within the Honor Space is anchored in pavers with a gold hue, and polished granite benches offer places for rest and reflection. The Honor Space will be surrounded by gardens that begin blooming in May before blossoming into warmer, brighter shades for the summer and fall.

Tops Markets engaged local firm Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC, to lead a collaborative design process that was shaped by input and guidance from the Honor Space Planning Committee, which included community members, survivors, family members of the victims and Tops store associates. The Honor Space was built by Western New York-based construction firm, 34 Group.

“We hope the 5/14 Honor Space will become a place where our community can join together to remember the victims and support our neighbors, as we collectively navigate the tremendous heartache that still remains two years later,” said John Persons, CEO of Northeast Grocery Inc., Tops parent company. “As we look toward the future, may this beautiful tribute stand as a beacon of strength and inspire us to strive for a better world where we celebrate diversity and the richness that comes from different perspectives and experiences.”

During the dedication ceremony, Persons was joined by Rev. Rachelle Robinson who provided a blessing, and remarks were shared by Attorney General Letitia James; Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; Greg Jackson, special assistant to President Joe Biden; artists Valeria and Hiram Cray; and architect Joy Kuebler.

After the mayor recited the names of those who lost their lives, a moment of silence was held, followed by a tolling of the bells to honor the victims.

“This is a somber milestone in our city’s history as we remember the lives that were taken by a white supremacist on May 14, while shopping at Tops on Jefferson Avenue. Today marks two years since that hate-fueled incident. My heart still hurts, and our city is still grieving,” Brown said. “It is my prayer that the honor space created by Tops on Jefferson Avenue will help bring hope and healing to store shoppers and the community-at-large.”

The story of the Honor Space and its artwork is shared in poetic descriptions penned by 2024 Buffalo Poet Laureate, Aitina Fareed-Cooke, that feature Adinkra symbols which are displayed throughout the space, offering connections between the verbal and visual in the Akan culture.

The 5/14 Honor Space also features a pear tree gifted to the city of Buffalo through the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s Survivor Tree Seedling Program, which provides seedlings from a tree that survived the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to serve as symbols of resiliency and hope nationwide.

In the weeks following May 14, 2022, Tops completed a full renovation of the Jefferson Avenue location, including a new storefront, a new interior layout and additional security measures. Inside the store, the company installed a memorial waterwall for remembrance and reflection, as well as new flooring and LED lighting.

Improvements were also made to enhance the store’s offerings, such as 30 percent more produce with a focus on organic options, additional dairy products, more in-store bakery goods and an expanded prepared food case.

“Over the last two years, our store associates have been an incredible source of strength, resilience and hope for our entire company,” said Ron Ferri, president of Tops Markets. “As we advanced the important, collaborative efforts to establish the 5/14 Honor Space, our associates have helped us carry forward with our mission to meet the grocery needs of all the communities we serve. As we remember and reflect on 5/14, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our associates, customers, and community as we continue to heal together.”

About Tops Friendly Markets

Based in Williamsville, New York, Tops Markets currently operates 148 grocery stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, including five that are run by a franchisee. As the largest for-profit employer in Western New York, with over 14,000 associates, the company is dedicated to providing sustainably sourced, high-quality products, while helping its communities flourish via support for programs that eradicate hunger and disease, educate youth and reduce environmental waste and energy consumption.

Read more independent store news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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