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Tops Friendly Markets is planning to create the largest store in the chain in the former Gold Circle Store at 3980 Maple Road in Amherst, the supermarket chain announced.

Tops plans to use the entire 102,000-square-foot store for what it is calling a "super food center," according to executives.

Tops is leasing the site from Benderson Development Co., which bought six Gold Circles in the area last year.

Hills Department Stores last September said it planned to lease the former Gold Circle for its own operations, but those plans apparently were abandonned. The seven Gold Circle stores in Western New York were closed after the parent company, Campeau Corp., announced it would sell the department store chain.

Tops is scheduled to begin renovation of the property this summer, pending town approval.

Tops and the other local supermarket chains have been pursuing strategies of creating large "superstores" with comprehensive modern departments.

The largest Tops will have a cut-to-order meat department, a sausage shop, fresh seafood, a carry-out cafe, a floral department, a fresh bakery and a specialty cheese shop, according to Tom Zarbo, spokesman for Tops.

The bulk foods department will have more than 500 products.

In recent months, Tops has expanded or announced plans for construction of other stores in the area.

The Tops stores at 3232 Sheridan Drive in Amherst and 2160 Grand Island Boulevard on Grand Island just completed expansions.

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