Friday, April 1, 2011

Abandoned Acme! Brown Mills, NJ


Location: 80 Pemberton Browns Mills Road, Browns Mills NJ

I'm sure I don't need to mention this, but for the newer Acme Style fans out there... there is nothing in the grocery world that excites me more than pitched-roof/A-frame Acme! Nothing. These stores are the most spectacularly designed of all grocery stores in the history of the world. It's true. This one is looking a tad lackluster having been abandoned for 16 years now. After 30 years of tried and true service to the residents of Brown Mills, the store saw it's last days in 1995 when a giant new replacement store was built just a few blocks away. Back in the 60's these stores were a dime a dozen. Today, there remains only one in it's original form... the Clayton Acme. A few abandoned ones are still floating around out there and they will all be making their way to the blog in the future. For now, let's check out all the wonders of the old Brown Mills store...

This is the basic model of the pitched-roof building... awning over the entrance only. The Clayton store mentioned above is the large, deluxe model with a full awning and much wider foot print.



The blue tarp was recently added to seal over the leaking roof. 

Dairy and Frozen receiving on this side. Not sure what the wood framed opening could be there above the doors. 

This was most likely Meat receiving. I didn't get close up of the doors for some reason. Always find plenty of missed photo opportunities when I get back from a long road trip. But too... the local police were making frequent stops in the parking lot. Had to get the pics and get out.

Grocery receiving here. If you look along the roof line you'll see that the beam for lifting compressors is missing. It would normally be sticking out of the roof above that door up near the peak. You can see an example of that at the Princeton Junction store. 




Back around to the front where we see the produce receiving doors. I wonder if we can see through those windows to the inside? 

Yep, June 20th proved to be my... and your... lucky day. I kept postponing a trip to this store since I was aware that is was completely boarded up. On this day however... the were boards missing. And in we go! 

Would you get a load of that! The 70's Colonial Decor lettering on the walls. Actually the letters themselves have been removed but due to a beige paint job, the old 70's colors were left under the letters. To see how this store would have looked back in the day, check out this picture from the Somers Point store. 

Looks like they hit this place with the 80's Remodel wall paint. May have painted all of the letters brown like they did in the Sea Isle City store. The 80's checkerboard floor made it into a section of this store as well. We'll see that down below. 


"Fresh Produce" here. Haven't seen "Fresh" in a 60's/70's store before. What are the windows there for? I seem to think there may have been a managers offices in this back room area but these windows would have been covered over with the produce cases. 



The Corner Deli still displaying some scrumptious party platters. The framing is from the 80's Remodel package. 




The checkerboard flooring looks to have gone in just along the front end and down the frozen food aisle. Lots of minor fixes-up here but not major remodel done in decades. 




The old bread receiving room which would have been converted to office space.

Bakery in yellow.

6 checkouts looking rather tightly spaced especially over by the office. 

Ahhhh... one last view of the interior. We're not going to see anything like this again. Or will we? Never can tell what I have stored in the Acme Style Vault. 

Home of the great fish-eye logo sign. May still be up there under the boards. To see what the sign looked like in it's glory days, check out this shot of the abandoned Parkesburg store.




The old Acme parking lot sign is now looking for a new tenant. Many attempts to redevelop this property have yielded zero results. 


Now on to the aerials...






2007

1995

1970

1963

1956

Over to the replacement store just a few blocks away...



Location: 18 Broadway, Brown Mills NJ

Great looking exterior for a 90's store. This model is a big improvement over the Hamilton store from last week's post which was built around the same time. 

"Albertsons Marketplace" remodel with lots of remnants of the 90's Red/White/Blue package.

Most of the signage and trim remain from the 90's decor package. The department letters were switched out and the red grid pattern removed... 

In the picture below from the Morrisville store, you can see how the old decor at Brown Mills was mostly just painted over during the remodel. 


Always tough getting "Lancaster Meats" in one shot without laying on the floor. 





As of last June, this store had not received the Premium Fresh and Healthy aisle markers.

Nice crowd there in the parking lot. The roof painted white when this shot was taken.

Looks like they're starting to paint the roof. You can see a white section in the front and what appear to be painting supplies scattered around.


And the painting was done by the time these shots were captured by satellites...


2007

1995
Construction not yet started when this image was taken. Perhaps someone can confirm for us when the old store closed and the new one opened. Seems like ground should have been broken as of 1995. 

And once again... boarded up. Made it there just in time. The interior will live on for eternity her at Acme Style.

55 comments:

  1. The new Browns Mills store was actually a replacement for 2 smaller stores, Browns Mills and Wrightstown. I was in the Wrightstown store once, but I can not remember where exactly it was. Any idea if it is still standing?

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  2. Yes, the Wrightstown store is still standing. It's had a small addition added to the front and doesn't look much like an Acme anymore. The old Acme sign is still standing in the parking lot. The address is:

    543 Wrightstown Sykesville Road
    Wrightstown, NJ

    Pictures were sent in of how Wrightstown looks today. I'll add them to this post this weekend. Had no idea that the new Brown Mills store was a replacement for this location as well.

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  3. The browns mills replacement store was built in the 1990s, historic aerials has it slightly off when it comes to years (a overpass completed in 1994 for example is still under construction in a 1995 photo near trenton, without all the ramps finished.) The aerial photo was taken in 1994 or so when the store was still open.

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  4. Browns Mills opened on 3 March 1996. At the grand opening, hugh crowds waited patiently in line for the ribbon to be cut! And yes, the A-frame store opened in 1965. Wrightstown was a smaller classic store that opened 7 Nov 1956. In the early 1960's theives cut a hole in the roof and entered the Wrightstown store and used a torch to open the safe, cooling the surrounding area with Bala Club beverages! This was back when stores closed at 6 pm on Saturday and didn't re-open until 9 am Monday.

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  5. I Googled the phone number on the empty Browns Mills store's signpost. The real estate site tells me it was built in 1962. Also notice the 70's Rite Aid next to this store and empty Ames in Wrightstown.

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  6. I stand corrected, yes it was built in 1962. Why don't they convert the old store to a Save-a-lot? It's about the right size.

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  7. Hi all. Scaggs and Albertson's both left that old Acme (1114) dark for a reason. Just like when the Yeadon,PA. lease went up for auction, they would not let another foor re-seller bid and open any kind of competition in the area. Browns mills was left "dark" for over ten years. (amount of lease left) The for rent sign only went up over the last year or two. The owner of that property had many requests to lease the store, but as long as all the up-keep and rents were up to date, nothing could be done. It was even involved in a lawsuit attempting to break the lease. Twice. And Acme won. So I feel I can safely state that Save-A-Lot won't be moving in anytime too soon. And if and when you do see a Save-A-Lot moving into the old Browns Mills Acme building, be assured that it is only to justify the closure of the Acme after lost sales to their sister store.
    The Wrightstown Acme was closed several years before the new Browns Mills Acme opened. (If I recall correctly)
    "T"

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    1. Both the Wrightstown and Browns Mills closed around the same time, replaced by the current store in Browns Mills.

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  8. When was the Yeadon store built? And why have so many Acmes in that general area closed? I thought a couple in West/South/Southwest Philly were given updates by Albertsons, but the stores crashed and burned.

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  9. you know, i love this site but i am sick of all the negativity people post...some of us still work at acme and can almost believe anything people say anymore, but really don't need to; nor WANT TO hear it unless it's official news or a post relevant to what is intended! no one who posts things anymore can back up their posts with facts hardly it seems. if you are just speculating; state that, so i can move on. i hear enough speculation in one days worth of work! go look at the news or something, the whole world is going through a crisis. man!

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  10. I completely agree, and to his credit, the webmaster has done a good job of keeping it to a minimum lately. Back when I worked for Acme in northern NJ between 1995 and 2003, it was the same thing- constant speculation about the state of the company, which stores were closing, who was going to acquire American Stores, what was going to be sold, etc. One had to learn how to tune it out, otherwise it started to get overwhelming.

    I know Acme signed a lot of sweetheart leases so I'm guessing that when a store was deemed as needing replacement, the amount of years left on the lease wasn't much of a factor? Hard to believe the company would just eat the remaining ten years on a lease after having opened a replacement, yet it seemed to happen all the time. I'm actually surprised landlords would allow leases to be signed that would basically allow a company like Acme to turn their shopping centers into ghost towns upon leaving, even if they were keeping up with the lease payments. Not only does closing an anchor leave an eyesore but it cuts back on traffic that supports the rest of the businesses. That can't be good for making sure the other businesses survive and maintain their lease payments.

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  11. There really aren't any negative comments here to get so worked up over.

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  12. Hi, I and two of my kids work for Acme as department managers. Yes it gets a little old to hear people that do not have a clue come in in a daily basis and ask when are you going to close, or when is the company going to be liquidated. At this point I am about to retire, but I do worry about my kids. If a store has cheap rent and is profitable it isn!t about to be closed. I really don!t believe that these folks mean to be cruel. I believe that they have no idea what trouble these rumors really cause to the morale in a store.

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  13. That may be true, but all these companies are hurting:

    1. Supervalu
    2. A&P/Super Fresh/Pathmark
    3. Safeway
    4. Rite Aid
    5. Sears/Kmart
    6. Blockbuster
    7. JCPenney

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  14. i hope nothing happens to this acme...it does very well...if you want to see a variety of people, this is one of the stores to go too!

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  15. Being the only supermarket in town probably helps this Acme out a great deal.

    Great post as always.

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  16. Can you keep us as up-to-date as possible, there are MILLIONS of questions I have, especially the newtown and clementon stores

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  17. There is a Superfresh by us that is closing on the 15th, the Lionville Superfresh to be exact, we can take several pictures of it, before and after closing, mabey you could use it as your bonus store!!!!

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  18. i think this acme is safe for a while...i'd be more concerned about willingboro, burlington, and other locations. willingboro used to be a very nice store when it opened but quickly lost its customer base, the new willingboro store opened in 1993 i believe.

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  19. I wanted to mention that there was also an Acme in Mt. Holly NJ on Rt. 541. That building is now an Advanced Auto Parts Store. Also there was an Acme in Burlington NJ on Route 130. No real pictures to get there though because the building was demolished a year or so ago. Both of those stores were similar to the Wrightstown NJ store.

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  20. To anonymous That may be true But. All I can say is how would you feel If everyday some one walks in to your office, bank, etc and said I read were your bank is in trouble. when are you going down the tubes ten times a day. How long would it be before you would become cranky ? How long would it be before some one from security showed up and asked showed where the door was located.
    Truth is, No one really knows what the future will bring. Most of Acme!s trouble have been caused by Super Valu!s inability to run a retail operation. They could spin the retail arm from the wholesale arm, They could sell Acme to a Kroger or Safeway or to and investment house.
    But the constant carping by people who don!t know a Supermarket from and empty beach house in Lewis in Mid January should stop.
    Here is a suggestion the next time you have the urge to ask when are you going to close.. Do something nice for the people employed at that market BUY SOME THING you just migth make some ones day!

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  21. I must correct myself about the comment I made about the old Mt. Holly Acme A couple Days ago. I was having a brain fart. It was not like the Wrightstown store. Entrance was in the front of the building almost center with Customer service directly behind the entrance, kind of like the old Medford NJ Acme. I remember from at least 25 years ago as a kid that my parents often referred to the old Mt.Holly Acme as a Super Saver. I remember the store felling quite large. In fact, after it closed in the mid 90's when Acme converted the old Jamesway in the same plaza this old store was partitioned into 2 stores, one is an Advanced Auto. A Joanns Clothing store used the other Section, but recently closed. The Plaza is called Fairground Plaza. I'm trying to research how old it is but havent come up with anything yet.

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  22. Dave,

    Was there also a Channel Lumber in fairground plaza?

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  23. Yes indeed. I forget what year it was, probably late 80's, early 90's the Channel became a Rickel. That is now a Staples.

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  24. I noticed this store has a similar layout to Willingboro's in many aspects, it looks very similar just the store is layed out in a different direction. I guess beings they where both 90's models and stores they would have some similarities. The breakroom is upstairs and so is Willingboros, they look a lot alike. The departments are very similar, but they do look a lot different now because of the remodeling Browns Mills received, but you can still definately spot similarities if you where to go to both stores. I'm sure as posted, there are other stores with similarities too.

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  25. Do any Acmes still have this look? Looks awful to me: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ytq7eJusByY/TZWdZHu7_BI/AAAAAAAAHdA/loQJA8ao1tY/s1600/90s_02.jpg

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  26. To the poster above:

    At least two Acme's I know of (Morrisville PA and Willingboro NJ) still have that look inside. There could be more but those are the only two I can think of.

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  27. The new Browns Mills Acme (Built in 1995) is quite nice. Looks even better after the remodel. I don't see much of it anymore having moved from Pemberton Township after almost 30 years, namely due to the crime in that town and my disliking how the township is being ran. I now live closer to the Mt. Holly Acme. The old Browns Mills Acme was very small, and even felt dated in the 90's, before it closed. I think most would agree with me that the last two aisle's were very dark. However, I must say that the old Browns Mills Acme did serve the community well. I was on the town Council's case quite a bit about doing something with the building before I moved from Pemberton Township. I don't know if there are any plans yet, but my hopes are that somebody could rent it and turn it into a skating ring, or something to give the kids in that community something to do. The kids don't have much to do in that town, and its so far away from everything.

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  28. I was stationed at McGuire AFB 1991-92. The Wrightstown Acme WAS still open then. When I demobilized at Fort Dix (I was in the Army National Guard then) after a year of post 9-11 active duty. The Wrightstown Acme was closed and a "junk" store was in it's place. This was in 2002.

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  29. I once heard this store (Browns Mills original) was built in 1968, but 1962 seems much more likely.

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  30. Ok,Ok, I know this is besides the point but there Is an abandoned superfresh in lionville, PA that I have some pictures of, before and after closing, would you like to have them?

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  31. Could you post them for me please? I meant to get to either that store if not either the identical one in Hammonton NJ or the one in Yardley PA that was a Super G and had a Wine & Spirits inside.

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  32. WAIT!!!!! how do I post ? do I just e-mail them to you or do I have to do something else to post them?

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  33. I was working in this store when it closed and it is sad to see how it looks today. Despite the close aisles and checkout stands, this store was always busy!
    The Wrightstown store closed not long before the new store opened.

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  34. Oh I'm sorry, I thought you could maybe post a link. But my email address is trent.pettit@comcast.net

    Thank You!

    Bonus: one example of typical 70's Acme music for your enjoyment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg0Epvs6dOg

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  35. the pictures should be posted by sunday

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  36. the superfresh pictures are too big to e-mail do you have an FTP site that I can use?

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  37. Make a bowling alley out of it.

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  38. Thanks for the reminder of an Eye Sore in the center of our town. You like this because you do not live here.

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  39. As of two weeks ago, the blue tarps had been removed from the roof of the old Browns Mills Acme. I can't tell if a new roof was put on or not. Looks more like they patched it. Almost had me thinking that they had a tenant for the place, but I haven't seen any activity since. I wonder if anybody in Browns Mills has bothered to contact Bottom dollar about that store since its the right size. It's not wide enough to have but about 7 or 8 bowling lanes,and with Acme being the only grocery store in Browns Mills, I doubt the residents would ever see a Save a Lot moving in there, since they are owned by the same company.

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  40. I remember the old acme in browns mills having calculators on the cart handles, does anyone else remember them?

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  41. Yes Steve.That was in the late 80's, early 90's. The shopping carts were yellow.

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  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  43. I don't live in BM anymore, but I'm back quite often (like every 2-3 months) to see family. I don't believe the New Acme is going any where. It's the only grocery store in the area. While it is a little more expensive, some people don't always want to make the 20-30 minute drive out to Mount Holly. But I can say that the "Old" Acme has been an eye-sore for many, many years. I always that that someone should buy it and turn it into a gymnastics place, movie theater or bowling alley since we've never had that in Brown Mills.

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  44. http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/news/local/fate-of-rundown-browns-mills-center-about-to-be-set/article_a9c35c42-9edc-5a9d-929a-aa981bfd291d.html

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  45. As Acme Style has suggested—I wonder whether the Acme sign still exists, hiding behind that wooden board. Upon a possible future demolition or remodel of the building, it would be a crime to just tear that sign down with it. Hopefully we Acme enthusiasts can stay abreast of the status of the building, and in that unfortunate event, at least one of us can be there to politely ask to keep the tiles. I would sleep more soundly at night, knowing that one of us could keep that sign for posterity.

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  46. The Acme Browns Mills had unusual "stained glass" shapes in the upper windows in green, orange, and I think purple and red in oval, circular type of designs.The sun would shine through them. I wish I could see those shapes again... they are only in my memory

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    1. They're on Acme Style too, Lisa! Not the ones from Brown Mills but from some other Acmes…

      Clayton NJ:
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Q5vBvgoO4-s/TrM3y1StKTI/AAAAAAAAJ7Y/qT1jIdKlSM4/s1600/acme_style_clayton_from_john_03.jpg

      Former Somers Point Acme:
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_246OMBI86f8/ShboLi6UZYI/AAAAAAAABOM/D6OGGshfVoI/s1600-h/acme_style_somers_point_07.jpg

      The old Morrisville Acme:
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_246OMBI86f8/SlYcDU_sLjI/AAAAAAAABmw/o9tA2L12Z7c/s1600-h/acme_style_former_moorrisville_02.jpg

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  47. OMG! Thank You :) Such good memories of looking at those shapes as a kid. Truly Wonderful, Thank you!

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  48. I remember in the back left corner of the acme there was a water fountain by the backroom doors. If you went in there was a staircase that brought you to a bathroom. Since I was a child, I thought this was so cool because I knee that it was probably for employees only.

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    1. I hated when my mother would drag us all the way up those stairs to use the bathroom!

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  49. I loved using the bathroom in the old brownsmills u had to go in the back shipping area and go upstairs and walk behind the acme sign I remember that the isle all the way to left was bread and the next one to the right was batteries and notepads and such I also remember wooden barrels full of pickles against the back wall where the deli was which is most likely the reason why I hate pickles.
    The acme in wrights town is still active but it is but under a different company I never really liked that acme it felt so cold and unwelcoming like modern acmes the one thing I loved about the old brownsmills acme was how welcoming it was I can not understand why no one has not done anything with it it could of been made into so many things like a skating rink or the club I don't know if it has bad tiles or asbestos or a some kind of biohazard.

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  50. I was in Browns Mills last week and stopped at the Acme to pick up a few things. I have to say, this place is a dump! I live in Hamilton and usually go to the Hamilton Sq. Acme. The Brown's Mills store makes the Hamilton store look like a show store. The store was dirty and not well stocked. The right half by the pharmacy had half the lights turned off, almost making it seem as though that past of the store was closed off (it wasn't). And the people in there looked really sketchy.

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