Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Tops Markets LLC, a limited liability company, Morgan Stanley Capital Partners V U.S. Holdco LLC, a limited liability company, and The Penn Traffic Company, a corporation. FTC File No. 101 0074
I specifically wish to comment on the competitive environment in the Ithaca area, and the disservice that will be accomplished if Tops is required to sell the two P&C stores there. The largest grocery store in this community is Wegmans. In addition, Aldi and now Maine's Source and Party Store create significant downward pressure on prices. If that wasn't enough, the WalMart is under expansion to a Super Walmart, so there is no shortage of alternatives within the downtown Ithaca area. My greatest concern is the P&C Store at 377 Pine Tree Road. This is the only grocery store up the hill and to the east of Ithaca. It serves a significant population to the East of Ithaca and Cornell, spreading out 30+ miles to Whitney Point and beyond before another significant grocer is present. Getting from this store to the downtown competitors can take 20 minutes or more, particularly during heavy commute times and with the significant student traffic generated by Cornell and Ithaca College. For those living to the east having access to a full-service grocer prior to reaching the edge of Cornell or going downtown is a substantial benefit, particularly if they already have to travel 20-30 minutes to get to that location. Other full-service competitors are unlikely to purchase and operate this location as it is smaller than grocery stores built by any of the significant chains. This would lead to the only option being an Aldi or Save-A-Lot, a lesser option that is counter to the FTC ruling. The fact that the store is now operated by a chain that has another store in the midst of Wegmans and Walmart helps to hold prices down; another operator without that presence could raise prices on certain staples since they have a location advantage. This would again be counter to the intent of FTC ruling. I strongly recommend reconsideration of this action.