Saturday, April 3, 2010

Convenience Store

So here were are heading into the late 90's. Acme has about four types of stores at this point...

1. New and remodeled stores with the Red, White and Blue decor concentrated in and around the core Philly market.
2. Checkerboard Arch decor in decent volume small and medium sized stores.
3. The 80's Remodel still in place in stores whose sales have fallen since the 80's and/or stores that Acme isn't interested in upgrading. Many of these stores having the 80's upgrades removed like Full Service Seafood, Salad Bars and In-Store Bakeries now reduced to just baking bread.
4. And believe it or not... a good amount of small, low volume stores still sporting the 70's decor.

I'm not 100% on how things played out at this time but here's what I speculate... American Stores decides to put itself up for sale. I believe the company was having problems but not sure how severe they were. Before showing stores to prospective buyers, Acme needed to freshen up old rundown locations on the cheap. Nothing says neglect like 70's decor when everyone has Y2K on their minds . Although, to their credit, some of the 70's decor stores were looking better than the 80's remodels.

Enter the "Convenience Store" decor... the one and only name I did NOT make up! This was by no means a remodel. It entailed nothing more that repainting the walls and putting up new department signage. The look based loosely on the Red, White and Blue decor of the early 90's. Some stores did receive new cases if desperately needed while others received cases removed from stores that had closed. Flooring was not replaced. 80's remodels kept their checkerboard tiles and the only 70's decor store that I know of getting new flooring was Sparta... but only portions of the floor were replaced.

The Convenience Store concept included the reduction of merchandise offered by stores. General Merchandise took the biggest hit. The idea was to convert these locations back to old school grocery stores rather than small stores desperately trying to be super-stores. The Sparta location was touted as one of the test locations for this format. Nearly 25% of shelving space was removed from this already impossibly small store creating nothing more than a big 7/11. Shockingly, it did not prove successful. Sparta closed in 2001. Nearly all other "Convenience Store" formats were closed soon after Albertsons purchased American Stores in 1999. The only one I know of still open today is the Acme in Fallston, Maryland.

This is the abandoned store in Berlin, New Jersey. It started with the 70's decor as you can see remnants of along the Meat Department. The brown and orange paneling was covered over by tall meat cases during the 80's remodel. This store had the checkerboard flooring til the very end.

This looks varied a bit from store to store. The biggest difference is the font used on the walls. I don't think I have ever seen the same one in two different stores. Acme probably purchased whatever kind of letters they could get there hands on rather than designing custom lettering.


  1. I have been in an Acme with every type of decor from the 70's look all the way up to the present look/s, but I have never been in an Acme with this "so called" convenience look. I never knew this decor ever existed until I first came upon this website. Judging from these pictures, I wasn't missing anything. My favorite decor by far is still the 80's look.

  2. To the Acme Style webmaster, thank you for all of your hard work in putting this series of fascinating articles together.

    I also have three questions that I'd really like to ask you:

    1. What do the letters "CSR" stand for (in "CSR Stand")? (I'm virtually certain that "C" stands for "Customer" and "S" stands for "Service," but I really don't know what the "R" represents.)

    2. You already mentioned that the "Checkerboard Arches" is one of your favorite decor packages, but is any one of these decor packages your very favorite?

    3. Which Acme logo is your favorite?

    FYI, my favorite decor package is the "1970's Colonial Look" and my favorite logo is the classic fish eye. (The red oval logo is also nice, yet I must say that I dislike the current logo.)

  3. Thanks for your questions Max! Here are my answers...

    1. CSR stands for Customer Service Representative. You were so close with "...represents."! CSR's wore red vests while all other employees wore blue so customers knew who to ask for help.

    2. The 80's decor is my absolute favorite although I have a love/hate relationship with the checkerboard flooring. 70's Decor is my number 2 although I don't have pictures of my favorite aspects of the more deluxe version which came later. The colonial style lights that were put up around the stores were the bomb! As was the crazy gold and brown wallpaper used in the Bakeries.

    3. Like you, the Fish-eye logo is my favorite. Nothing compares to it. Not Acme's other logos or any other grocery store's logos. The red oval logo is my second favorite. That logo reached iconic status that the new logo never will obtain even if it's around for the next 100 years.

    Still have about five decor packages to come!

  4. What a goofy idea and a goofy look to match. Remove items from the already-small stores and give people even less of a reason to shop Acme. Brilliant.

  5. Working in both the Sparta and Newton stores during my 5 year sting with Acme, this was really the only Acme decor I really knew of. Toward the end, I got to help out a few days at Randolph and Clifton back when they were opening as well as Rockaway if they needed some produce help, but still when I think Acme, I think of good ole' convenience store red, blue, and tan!

  6. miss newton acme hhuh

  7. Even after reading practically this entire website, I'm still not sure what the CSR Stand was -- other than the fact that it was terrible. You've explained above that CSR stood for Customer Service Representative, but how was this stand any different from the Customer Service Department in any other store? Another question -- do any stores still have the CSR Stand (that are open today)?

    1. First of all, thanks for reading practically this entire website! I can completely understand you not being sure what a CSR stand was. They are all long gone now. The easiest way to show you would be to draw some floor plans but since that is not an option at the moment, I will try to explain.

      So take a 50’s or 60’s Acme that was getting the 80’s remodel. The customer service office would be completely removed with the manager’s office getting enclosed. An in-store bakery would be installed where customer service was located. At the opposite end of the registers, a stand along with the store safe would be the new customer service area. Putting the safe in the middle of store? Brilliant. You can often see these types of stands at ShopRite and Stop and Shop. They’re used for the front-end manager but generally not for customer service. The CSR stands at Acme were just a big free-for-all. Customers could just walk right through the area. Cashier drawers, schedules, store documents all out for everyone to see. It was an unsightly mess! Often an express register was added right next to the bakery. When the CSR stand was killed off, the safe would be moved back to this area and the express register would be beefed up with a bigger counter to double as customer service.

      In the 33M stores, the customer service office was removed to make way for the West Coast Video department. The CSR stand would be set up on the other side of video, facing the very first register. The safe would be located there as well. Again, one giant free-for-all with no designated area for a customer to go for help. All sorts of schedules and papers hanging on the wall. For the first few years after the 80’s remodels, they didn’t even hang a sign in the area that said “Customer Service”. As great at the remodels were at the time, I was just look at these CSR stands and think “who on earth came up with this???” Just awful.

      Hope this helps!

    2. Thank you, that helps a lot! I believe, if I understand your description correctly, that some (non-Acme) stores still have a version of this today, but with an additional Customer Service counter in another location.