Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Break!

Better late than never… Acme Style will be on Spring Break this week. There will be no new store posts. Posting will resume Tuesday, April 29th. See you then!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Acme — Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Location: 785 Starr Street, Phoenixville, PA

Snow is still in the forecast at Acme Style! I have a few more stores to get posted from this past winter. Kind of appropriate this week since the temperature plunged in New Jersey and we did get some more snow. Over the next few Fridays, I will be focusing on getting this batch of stores up on the blog. Most happen to be Pennsylvania locations so we'll be on a short break from the New Jersey store coverage. My goal, as of now, is to have all open New Jersey stores represented on the blog by summer's end.

So when it comes to the Phoenixville Acme, I find myself with just one word to describe it… confusing. Not in a bad way. In fact, it is one of the more fascinating stores that I have covered for the blog. Had I not known better, I would have sworn Acme took over this building from another chain. Even the facade is more Grand Union-like than Acme...

Photo courtesy of gustores4ver

My knowledge Phoenixville's history is pretty dicey. A 50's model existed on this same property, closer to the road, until at least 1971. Exactly when this replacement was built is my question. It's nearly impossible to figure that out from the interior. The configuration of the Bakery, Produce and Deli & Seafood is not typical to any era of Acme stores.

Heading in here through the right side entrance. The Bakery is surprisingly the first department inside the entrance...

Check out that floor! A bright, bold, virtually flawless version of the 80's Checkerboard floor remains in a majority of the store. The checkerboard pattern is on an angle here rather than running parallel to the exterior walls of the building. That slight change makes the floor so much more visually interesting than the standard pattern in the majority of 80's stores and remodels.

The condition of the floor is pretty remarkable. You'll see that some tiles have been swapped out around the store and don't quite match the original color schemes...

Let's discuss this Bakery for a moment. Does anyone know of another Acme where the Bakery is the very first department? I've certainly never seen one. This is technically the start of the store. The Pharmacy is at the opposite corner. We'll be seeing some other odd layout situations here as well.  The decor is a basic version of the Industrial Circus package. The department signs are flat against the wall with no spot lights shining on them. The walls throughout the store have minimal decor elements.

A look at the Bakery tiles joining up with the grocery aisles. A couple of mismatched tiles on the left.

Tiles shift to bluish-green as we move on to Produce. You can see in the lower-left hand corner that some areas of the 80's floor were switched out for the Industrial Circus flooring.

Aisle 1 is half deals and half Wild Harvest, with Meat to the rear. Produce is in an alcove off to the right with all new flooring. Notice how the checkerboard floor looks more interesting here than in the former Sharon Hill store, for example…

This alcove may have been a result of an expansion of the store.

I'm always surprised to see this old Wild Harvest signage. Not sure why they haven't swapped it out in all stores, especially with many of Acme's competitors placing more emphasis on their health food departments. The new signage matches the current packaging for the Wild Harvest products. You can see an example of the sign at the abandoned Cinnaminson store. But then again… Wild Harvest may be on its way out in favor of Safeway's O Organics brand. There have numerous articles online discussing the cost cutting measures Safeway will take once it starts running Alberstsons. Ditching SuperValu's brands would seem like a logical step.

Fake corrugated steel. Click here for the real thing.

Can't get enough of this floor. It actually pairs up nicely with the Industrial Circus decor. And look at that shine!

Check out the lighting! It's the exposed fluorescent tubes rather than the recessed lighting seen in 80's and 90's stores. This type of lighting was phased out of new Acmes way back in the 70's!  Could this in fact be a former 33M store? It's impossible to tell from the historic aerials since we see the 50's model in 1971 and the current store in the next available view from 2002. There are just too many odd situations here to sketch out the exact history of this place.

Over to aisle 2 now with an extension of the Wild Harvest department reaching into "Shop the World". Again, notice how the checkerboard pattern here. I believe this was done in very late 80's stores. The very last ones just before the newer Red/White/Blue package was used in new stores.

There appears to be second floor offices above the Meat Department. You can see the mirrored windows along the ceiling.

Some of the pictures from here on out get a little blurry. This was one of my first stop on a 17 store day so I was moving pretty quickly through the place.

The store is screaming "expanded 33M model" in this shot. The drop ceiling extending out over the Deli and Seafood is another odd aspect of this store.

Bad picture of the frozen food. Including it to show the Industrical Circus category signs hanging from the ceiling. Other aisles have been upgraded to the Premium Fresh and Healthy signs...

No markers in this aisle here but notice how beautifully the shelves are stocked! Yes Acme shoppers, Supervalu HAS left the building.

Dairy extends into an alcove in the back corner. This is due to the the Wine And Spirts running along the left wall of the store.

Dairy doesn't have the usual light blue tiles.

Regardless of all the mixing of decor packages, this is still a very attractive store.

More Industrial Circus flooring can be seen in this corner of the store.

This was my first time in an Acme that sold liquor.

Hopefully someone can confirm the history here. I'm putting my money on a 1970's 33M store being expanded and completely renovated in the late 80's. The historic aerials down below offer no confirmation on this.

Aerial Views...

Additional stores added in recent years, seen here still under construction. Acme's parking lot no longer has angled spots. All construction is now complete and the stores are open.

This just adds to my confusion… there are NO clues on the roof of any kind of expansion. From these aerial shots, it looks like it could be a freshly built, late 80's store.

No clues in the back either. The brick all looks exactly the same. From this distance, there's no indication of a new and old section. I didn't drive around back for a closer look.

Historic Aerials...

Store construction and parking lot complete in 2008.

Here you can see the spot where the original store was located. Not sure why all of those trailers are sitting there. Strange that the lot of the former store was left such a mess.

Jumping decades back to 1971, we see the original 50's store. I have a feeling we're missing some interesting history during those years. A few small stores appear were added to the left side of the building.



Acme stands alone in 1957. The store opened in December 1955.


Ok Phoenixville Acme fans… what can you tell us about this place?

Update: An article at has this store opening on May 18, 1988! "Acme Chain Has 1st New Pa. Store In A Decade" So it was one of the first new 80's stores. Not among the last as I speculated. Strange though that they went back to the florescent tube lighting for a new store. Also puts the angled checkerboard flooring at an early date than I thought. Perhaps they decided to so this just for new stores and not the remodels. Link to the article about the store's opening is below...