BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mayor Byron Brown went inside the Tops on Jefferson Avenue for the first time since the racist attack on May 14.

The mayor said he shops at the store periodically and felt some concern going back in.

He said when he went inside, the store looked completely different. He’s hoping this will help others in the community also feeling unsure about returning.

“The store looks completely different inside, it does not look like the same store,” Mayor Brown said.

He said there’s new LED lighting, flooring, shelving, painting, and more open space.

There’s also more organic foods and variety of products. He said almost everything has been moved around and all the product in the store is new.

The mayor said substantial security improvements have been put in place.

“Everyone is not gonna feel comfortable coming back to the store and we certainly understand that, but thousands of people in the community rely on that shopping option and I give Tops tremendous credit for listening to the community.”

Lamont Thomas is someone who said he won’t go back. He was shopping in the store during the attack.

“There’s nothing really that you can change to make it different because you know what happened there so for the people who do know what happened it’ll probably just still feel the same for them,” Thomas said.

Even so, he said it’s good it’s reopening for those who need it.

“Not everybody has to go but some people that do need to go. They can be able to do it if they’re up to it and they have the strength to do it but we shouldn’t let something like this take something away, especially after we waited so long to have something like this over here in this area.”

Tops has been giving employees the chance to come into the store on Fridays to see the renovation progress.

The mayor said they are planning a memorial at the store and he and Governor Hochul will soon be announcing who will be on the committee.

The store is on track to reopen by the end of July.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.