Monday, April 27, 2009

Classic Acme – Clayton, New Jersey


Here is... what I believe to be... the very last pitched-roof Acme still open for business. Other pitched-roof locations still exist but have had additions put on and renovations done that disguise their former distinct features. I think the only other pitched-roof store that is still open is in Cape May, NJ. But renovations to that store have covered up the glass facade. This store may be the only one to remain virtually intact since it first opened.


Neighborhood Acmes like this one have always offered all sorts of gardening and lawn supplies (as you can see lined up in front of the windows). Back in the 80's, Acme was famous for it's half-priced plant sales. Stores would be filled with plants just before the sale and would easily sell out in just a few days. The green doors to the right are for produce deliveries.


Just a couple of opaque panels have been put up over the entrance. Most pitched-roof stores had many more put in. You can see an example of this of the abandoned Acme in the NJ: Yardville post. There are only one set of doors to walk through when you enter. Once in the front doors you are completely in the store. A massive blast of air from above greets you as you walk in to keep the outside air out.


The outside sign appears to just be a canvas sheet pulled over the frame of the old fish-eye logo sign. I personally think this new logo looks much better with white letters on a red background. The parking lot signs are done that way as you can see in a photo down below.


The greatest design feature ever for a grocery store? Why yes, yes it is! All pitched-roof Acmes had this design treatment on the inside. Just incredible. I was so excited to see this one still intact. Possibly the very last of it's kind. I believe I read somewhere that Acme had commissioned a well known artist in the 60's to design this sign. The areas around the abstract lettering are silver in color but appear brown here due to the sun shinning on the sign. I hope to get back to this store sometime after sunset to get more pictures. This sign would look very different when it's dark outside.


Here's an interior shot just to show the decor package this store has. Many smaller Acmes have this look. Old black and white photos of the town are hanging on the walls instead of department names. The Deli is the only department with it's name on the wall. The orangish picture on the right wall there said something like "Oven Fresh Bakery", yet this store has no fresh baked goods. The aisle signs say something like "Clayton New Jersey, Acme Markets" around the numbers. I believe those spot lights to the right have been there since the store first opened. They weren't on and I doubt they are used anymore. I have seen these above the produce departments in many pitched-roof stores.


Image courtesy of Barry Caselli

Update 10.25.11: Barry sent in this great shot of the interior roof. My interior shots are lacking since I was a little nervous taking pictures inside of stores in the blog's early days. I plan on getting back to Clayton for more extensive interior coverage. Clayton one of the all-time most visited posts on the blog. 


Image courtesy of Michael Lisicky

This amazing photo comes to Acme Style from Michael Lisicky. He took this picture of the Clayton store back in the 80's. I don't know if this store was remodeled later in the 80's along with most other Acmes or not. Hopefully someone familiar with this store can let us know. I will be posting other incredible pictures that Michael has sent in the near future. Stay tuned...


Isn't this a better look than the red letters on white?


One final look at this classic Acme. And one final note... I spent about 30 minutes in this store, roaming all the aisles. It has been at least 10 years since I was in an Acme like this one. Just had to take it all in. I left the store incredibly impressed with how clean and well stocked it was. This location clearly has a dedicated team. There were alot of employees in the store getting it ready for what as hopefully going to be a very busy Saturday.


Here is a look from Live Maps. Interesting how large the property is compared to the size of the store. Would there ever be a need for that much parking? Wonder too if there was once a building next door where that area of grass is now and why Acme hasn't expanded this location.

15 comments:

  1. This looks just like the Acme did in my hometown, Nanticoke, PA. It brings back memories! I'll have to take a trip and visit.

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  2. Nintendo85 yet again. I've seen this one too, and took two pictures of it. Very cool store!

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  3. Oh my goodness gracious. Anyone remember "crusing" the Clayton Acme parking lot in the late 1980s?

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  4. Hello all.
    I am happy to say that the Clayton NJ Acme is not the last "A" frame in original shape.
    The Chestertown, Maryland Acme is in near original condition with only one small addition that was done years ago. I will send Acme Style some recent photo's of this store.
    Bill M. Trex354@AOL.com

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  5. Thanks for the tip Bill. I wasn't aware of this store. Checked it out on Google street view and it looks like the front windows have been covered up with an facade upgrade. The original Acme sign frame has been replaced with individual letters. So I think Clayton still holds the title of the most original "A" frame Acme still in business. The front windows are still intact, the original sign frame is still used and no additions or alterations have been done to the store except decor and case upgrades. Regardless, I would love to post pictures of the Chestertown store. It does look like a one-of-a-kind store!

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  6. You really should check out the Chestertown store if you get the chance. According to an Acme insider, this store now has "all the bells and whistles". Surprising that it still has no pharmacy or Starbucks. It now has circa 2003 Albertson's decor, but the light fixtures are original. This store is unique in that it was a rare pitched-roof Acme in a large shopping center. It appears to need some roof work. I never went inside but I do not recall it being expanded when I discovered it. The insider tells me this store opened in the year 1960, which the staff there seems to confirm. This is odd since a retail blog with a detailed history of the peaked-roof stores says they were introduced in 1963. There also was a unique A&P in downtown Chestertown.

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  7. Yeah I live in this town. This is the anchor of this town. It is small but nice. They can get you in and out real fast.I will go in for one or two items in a matter of minutes. They have all the same sales as the larger stores.The workers are real friendly. The Deli is smaller than the bigger stores. The store is easy to roam. It does have classic charm like the old A&P and the Food Fairs. I remember the days when you could smoke in the supermarkets.

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  8. Clayton or Chestertown?

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  9. I'm pretty sure Anonymous is referring to Clayton. Chesterown has been expanded and updated significantly. Clayton does have an updated decor but still has a very old school feel on the inside.

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  10. The old aqua interior of this Acme was the same as the Philadelphia Acme on 10th and Reed Street back in the 70s. They moved to a newly built one in the lot across the street from it in '80, which still stands.

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  11. I grew up in Clayton and was at that Acme every week. I still pass through there and have stopped there when I get the call to, 'stop somewhere and pick X up on the way'. It's been about a year since I last was in there. But, not a lot has changed. It's a welcome walk down memory lane every time I stop in there.

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  12. The artsy sign inside on the front windows was "restored" about 2 years ago. Within the lasst 2 years, a trash compactor was added and new airconditioning. This store was brutal in the summer: all the extra compressors added for refigeration made the A/C underperform. I can answer most questions concerning this site. BTW, the grassy patch was always there, never occupied.

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  13. I first saw this Acme a few years ago while driving through Clayton and I was amazed. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures. I need to do that one of these days. Thanks for including it in this blog. I love it.

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  14. I just came back from photographing this Acme. (I also made some other unrelated stops.) I got two pictures of the front, and two interior shots, including the artistic thing in the front window. Really cool.

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  15. A few days ago I made the 1.5 hour trek each way just to visit this location, which may be the last or one of the last largely unaltered A-Frame Acme locations still in existence. I had such a pleasant evening after work!

    I am willing to bet the farm that this must have been a replacement location built in the 60’s to replace an older, smaller “Main Street” Acme right on N. Delsea Drive. Driving down the street I had some guesses which building must have housed it, but we would need to hear some information from a long-time Clayton resident to know for sure. It’s also possible that the original location may have been torn down. The existing location, which in itself has now become a classic, is built right on the edge of Downtown Clayton, so it gives off the impression that it was a “larger” store with more parking built to accommodate the changing needs of Americans at the time.

    It is easy to tell why this location has pretty much remained the same for the past 50 years or so. Clayton itself is like time capsule. It does not have the urbanized, hustle & bustle feel that much of the rest of New Jersey has in the northern part of the state. It is off the beaten path and still retains that small-town, cozy, quaint feel. This Acme location in effect has remained successful because it continues to cater to that crowd of people who just want to pick up some groceries easily and simply.

    The last Acme I visited before this was the one in Fair Haven. What a side-by-side comparison of two smaller, vintage locations that are both so different and so similar at the same time! Each one is a smaller store that has survived near the edge of the downtown area for many years; however, the Fair Haven one provides fast, convenient groceries for higher income busy white collar workers, while a similarly sized Acme in the opposite corner of the state in Clayton provides much of the same groceries on a similar scale for the small town demographic. Acme means something different for all kinds of people!

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