Thursday, April 22, 2010

Former Acme, Union NJ

Union Acme images courtesy of Rob Ascough

To clear up any confusion, I am adding the former Union Acme under the Union City post. This store was located on Magie Avenue in Union New Jersey which is about 20 miles southwest of Union City. Interestingly, it appears that both locations had nearly identical buildings. The Union Acme opened in 1957 and closed in October 2006 on the same day the brand new Freehold and Marlboro stores bit the dust.

The Union store clearly benefited from being in a densely populated area. Business must have been pretty decent here to have lasted so long. With only 6 aisles, it has to be one of the smallest Acmes to survive well into the 2000's. Albertsons pulled the plug almost immediately on all small stores when they took over in 1998. Union had another Acme as well about 3 miles away. That store closed in the late 70's and is now a ShopRite. There's a picture of that store down below.

I did lots of screen grabs long ago in case they got replaced when a new store opened in the location. That has indeed happened. It is now... surprise surprise... a CVS. Some satellite images show the store as a CVS which you will see down below. Until Rob came along with his incredible collection of old Acmes, I was planning to rely on satellite photos exclusively for the Union Acme post. I try to avoid using only satellite pics but in some instances they are the only available images of former Acme stores. And they're certainly better than nothin'!

A little Photoshop magic reveals the exterior signage of the store on this satellite image. (I did this before Rob reminded me he had sent in pictures of the store as an Acme.) The interior had the Checkerboard Arch decor. Not sure if it had the 80's remodel or if it went straight from 70's Colonial to the Checkerboard look. I regret never getting to this store... I knew there was an Acme in Union but had no idea that it was a classic. Check out the colonial window frames on the front of the store. You can see these on the former Parsippany store and the still-open Manasquan store.

The entrance and exit were along the front wall to the right side. The overhangs on either side may have been used for cart corals or may have been the original entrances and exits.

There must be a basement in this store but it's hard to verify from these satellite shots.

This shot clearly the columns along the side wall... a distinct trait in Acmes built from the 50's all the way through to the 70's.

Google Earth captured the building's conversion into a CVS.

Conversion complete! The was a tricky screen grab to get on Bing Maps. When I would move the building into the center of the screen the image would update revealing the old Acme.

As we all know... CVS loves a good old fashioned Acme. They put alot of work into updating these old stores but it must be more cost effective than building a new store from the ground up. Plus these old Acmes have ideal locations for drug stores.

This is the other former Acme of Union New Jersey. Closed in the late 70's. Now a ridiculously successful ShopRite. To be filed under "Acme Missed Opportunity" #287.


  1. You're right, the Union store looks like a clone of the Union City store. These stores don't seem to be like the Acme stores that the company was building in the late 50s (Sparta, Newton, Wildwood) so I'm wondering if stores of this design were constructed at the same time or if this design came before the ones of the late 50s? I'm guessing those side canopies covered the original entrances, which probably existed on both sides since the store stands in the middle of a parking lot. I'm thinking the North Plainfield store might have been similar to this one as well, although it evolved with an altogether different look.

    Is it just me, or does it seem as though the back of the building was expanded? The very first photo depicts a white roof over the back of the building and a light line is still visible as you look at the building in its current CVS incarnation. If you look at the side of the building, you'll notice that the last column is spaced differently than the rest.

    1. Per my post below, the store had a basement. I think I remember that the basement was only under the original footprint. The later addition did not have that basement.

  2. This store wasn't in my area, but I remember hearing that it was a busy store.

    Did business die off or something?

  3. I worked in this store from June 2006 to October 2006 when it closed. In the few months I worked there I was surprised for such a small store how busy it was. I grew up in the neighborhood and miss this store a lot as it was very convenient. It would have cost Acme a lot of money to renovate this store and it didn't seem worth it to them because the lease was up. But I will never forget this store and the friends I made working there.

  4. I transferred to this store from the Point Pleasant NJ store while I was at college.I worked at this store in fall 1988 to spring 1989 when I went to college at the then Kean College (later Kean University) in Union NJ.

    I can say that this store did have a basement which was where the break room/area was a that time. I think I remember that it also had a conveyor belt system to bring cases of goods up/down in/out of the basement. The store was small but did huge business for the footprint which even I understood as a college student. The manager at the time had two distinct crews manning the store during open hours. The weekday/night folks who were "adults" and Acme "lifers" with many years experience and the weekend folks who were typically high school or college age people. This allowed the Acme "lifers" to typically have the weekends off.

    This was also the era of converting to the laser price scanning registers from hand keying prices into the electronic registers. They used the same exact registers but added the laser scanner after the register conveyor belt. One sad thing that happened was the kind of slow guy who had been the full time "price changer" person for 6 to 7 years straight at this store pretty much lost his job. This was because he couldn't get up to speed on the computerized registers which is what he had to do once the price labels no longer needed to be scraped and new labels put on the goods.

    Formerly of Point Pleasant NJ