Friday, August 6, 2010

Former Jersey Shore Acme, Elberon NJ

This former store was one of the biggest Acme mysteries I had to crack... mostly due to my own confusion. Would you believe this Acme was built in 1989? I certainly didn't, especially considering the facade on this place. It looks more like the Acmes Albertsons was building in the early 2000's. (See West Chester and Freehold) When I began researching this store through statelite images, the store appeared to be under construction. At that time many satellite images I was looking up were taken in the early 2000's which lead me to believe that this store was an early 2000's "crash and burn" like the Freehold store.

Turns out the construction was taking place sometime after the Acme had closed in 2002 in preparation for the CVS to move into half the space. The entire building and parking lot were upgraded at that time. The property may have been in an abandoned state for several years before the CVS opened. After figuring all of this out, I still couldn't get over the facade of this place. I am familiar with many late 80's stores that were built and none of them looked anything like this building.

This story does get more interesting... this Acme was actually a replacement store for a 50's model that was located on this very site. The original store burned down in the late 80's paving the way for this gigantic replacement. Thanks to, we'll get a very good look at the old store down below.

The brick and all the trim appear to be new on the building. I don't believe it was looking this deluxe back in the Acme days. Still... the bones of this facade are much more extravagant than Acme was known to have in their late 80's stores.

If memory serves me right, there were not alot of new stores built in the mid to late 80's. Acme instead focused on remodeling most of their existing stores, expanding some but keeping construction of brand new stores to a minimum. The next significant Acme building phase would take place in the early 90's when the "megastore" concept was rolled out. (See Quakertown for an example of this model)

Interesting roof-less awning on the right half of the store. Although the facade has clearly been made-over, old satellite photos do show the facade is virtually the same back in it's Acme days.

It does not appear that the CVS is a huge draw here. The is a "downtown" area a few blocks from here but that too seemed every quite on a Saturday afternoon.

The red oval logo was on this section. Not sure if the front walls and windows have been reconfigured. This is not like any late-80's Acme that I know of. Let's take a look inside...

A few remaining Acme clues to be seen! The orange Deli strip is still up. If you look closely at the back wall you can see how the Produce Department had a lower ceiling. The ceiling then sloped upward right at the Deli stripe to the higher section throughout the rest of the store. No signs of the Checkerboard floor.

And a bit of the "Quality Meats" stripe can still be seen. I'm a little confused by the layout here. There are no signs of Seafood which would have been to the left of the Deli. Most late 80's stores had the Deli along the Produce wall, essentially behind the Produce alcove. Not sure if this store had a Produce alcove or if Produce just lined the left wall. More mysteries would have been solved if I discovered this store in the early 2000's when it was still opened... or even abandoned. Those were the days before satelite images and GPS systems for the car. (Well, at least cheap GPS systems.) This store should have had the 80's superstore format but it's hard to tell now that it's gutted.

The CVS is behind the wall to the right.

Back in the Acme days, this are was known as Elberon. Today, it's more commonly referred to Oakhurst.

Limited beach areas up in the Northern sections of the Jersey Shore.

Serious upgrades taking place around the entire building. When I first discovered this store, every satellite angle showed it under construction. This is the only remaining image available now. All other angles now show construction completed and the CVS open for business...

Now for some images. (Click on them to see bigger images)

The Acme closed in early 2002. It may still be open in this shot.

1995... about 1/2 way through it's life.

1979... showing the classic 50's model. Pretty typical of Acme's back then... small store with a huge parking lot. Did they ever think all of those spaces would get filled? Even of triple coupons days?

Nice clear shot from 1963. Not too busy that day.

In 1956 the Acme was officially under construction.

So why did the new Acme only last 13 years when the old one stood for 30? The old 50's model must have been pretty successful for Acme to go ahead with a huge new replacement. Did other competitors open nearby in the mid to late 90's stealing away Acme's business? Perhaps the new store was never the draw Acme hoped it would be. This does seem to be the case considering the 80's decor remained in the store until it's death in 2002. American Stores replaced most of the remaining 80's decor with the "Convenience Store" look in the late 90's. Hopefully someone familiar with the are can shed some light on this store's demise.


  1. Well I can tell you why this was so deserted on a Saturday... this area is very heavily Syrian Jewish (nearly 100%) and barely any business is conducted locally due to Sabbath. Also, not far away on Rt 35, Wegmans opened one of their very first NJ stores which is the game to beat in this area from nearly the minute they opened. I live no more than 2 miles from this store in asbury park and I had NO idea this was an Acme at one point in it's life-- none!

  2. That explains it! I knew it was a predominantly jewish area but didn't make the connection that Saturdays were the Sabbath.

    I think the Acme may have closed before Wegmans opened. That store seems to be newer than 2002. Although, Acme closed their Collegeville PA location in anticipation of a Wegmans opening nearby. Maybe the same thing happened here.

  3. Hi, As a person who has been a department Manager with Acme for many a year I can tell you what happened. A 1950!s store was small the sales for that sized store made it profitable. The shelves held little inventory
    and turned quickly. The new stor was twice as large, extended shelving ment poor turn over and profits simply disapeared. Also Acme has never figured out how to cater toa community that is culturely unique as this one is. Some times one size does not fit all

  4. Looks like that Wegmans opened in 2004.. so it's closing was a few years before their opening on 35, good call. It's almost surprising that Acme held on as long as it did, considering all it's Rt 35 competition. A tiny Foodtown in West End, Long Branch still hangs on though, just a few blocks from this store

  5. The story goes something like this... There was an A&P south of Acme on Norwood Avenue and both stores did good business for the time period. A&P closed in the mid 60s, all that was left was Acme. A senior housing complex (Popular Village)was built west of the Acme on Roosevelt Avenue around 1977 and boosted sales. The demographics of the area started to change during the late 70s early 80s. Note; this Acme is in the Oakhurst section of Ocean Township, the town of Deal borders Oakhurst on Norwood Ave. The Boro of Deal, NJ was and is a town of wealth, the "old money" was on its way out at this time and the "new money" was flooding in, in the form of the Syrian community... In the West End section of Long Branch was a Foodtown that started catering to the needs of the community. Attached to the Foodtown was a fairly large liquor store, Foodtown took this section and converted it into a full Kosher market. The needs of the community were met, for the time being... In Deal, all the beautiful old Victorian homes were being torn down and lots sub-divided to accommodate the growing population of the Syrian community. Around this time, the original Acme burnt down. It sat empty for a few years, no one at the time knew if plans were to rebuild or not. This hurt the seniors at Popular Village because Acme was a short walk for those that didn't drive. It also hurt the residents of Oakhurst, as there were no other super markets close by. Finally, Acme was scheduled to be rebuilt, but as a mainstay it didn't last long. It was a beautiful store with all the hometown feel that it once had but there was a learning curve. The locals had to adjust their shopping schedules to avoid the Syrian community, who were very pushy and arrogant. Now on to the demise. It has been said that a major player in the Syrian community approached Acme brass with a "deal" that would keep them "around for years." The "deal" was the same as what was offered at the Foodtown in West End, you cater to the Syrian community and we'll cater to you. It was a done deal by this time with Foodtown but as the Syrian community kept growing outward, they needed more. The Oakhurst Acme did cater somewhat, there was a good sized Kosher section and honestly in business, you have to cater to your surroundings but the Syrian community wanted more from Acme. The "deal" offered was an undisclosed amount of cash for an undisclosed amount of coupons, valid only within Syrian community. Acme brass rejected the deal stating, we don't do business that way... The ranking leader of the Syrian community stated, if you don't take our offer, the Syrian community will not shop at Acme. It wasn't more than a year that Acme closed in Oakhurst.

    The store then again sat empty until CVS did a complete makeover. The only part that looks similar is the loading dock towards the train tracks, all other parts of the store were refaced. The south side of the store still sits empty as CVS only takes up the North section of the building. To this day, we all still miss our Acme...

  6. Fascinating story! Thanks for sharing it.

  7. I just looked back on this post today and I realized I never commented on it.

    In this store, the produce was to the right as soon as you walk in. I was half in an alcove and half along the front of the grocery aisles. Behind produce along the first aisle was bakery. Along the back wall from right to left was meat, deli and dairy. I can't remember where seafood was, maybe between meat and deli. On the left side was customer service followed by magazines and then dairy? Frozen was up the center of the store in front of the deli. There was no pharmacy.

    The store had the 80s remodel from opening to end. It had the raised ceiling in the middle portion of the store. I believe that there was 80s decor along the outside of the middle section where the ceiling height changes.

    Produce receiving was on the right side of the store. The basic appearance of the store is the same as when it was Acme, but the colors have changed.