Friday, December 30, 2011

Grand Finale 2011...
The Abandoned Acme of Paulsboro, NJ!

Location: W. Broad Street, Paulsboro NJ

For 2011's Grand Finale... and the 100th post of the year... we'll be visiting the abandoned pitched-roof store in Paulsboro, New Jersey. Closed in the early to mid-90's, this store remains virtually unchanged since it's grand opening day back in October 1968. A steady stream of requests for coverage of this store have been coming in since the blog began. The pictures you see here were taken all the way back in February of 2010. I try to keep a couple of goodies in the Acme Style vault so I don't run out of surprises. Despite the pictures being nearly 2 years old, the abandoned store remains to this day in the very condition you see here. joshaustin610 posted a recent picture of the in his Acme collection on flickr which you can see here. We can also hit the rewind button back to 2006 to see the store in better shape in trex354's collection by clicking here. Josh reports that the store closed around '93-94. I have no other information pinpointing the exact date. Judging from the interior, the store has remained unoccupied since the Acme closed.

Store #1047 had an unusual layout compared to the standard issue pitched-roof model. The entrance, down at the right corner of the building, leads directly into the Produce side of the store. Customer Service and the bread delivery room are on left side of the store, opposite the entrance side. Another unusual aspect is the lack of Produce delivery doors at the front or side of the building. It appears that all back room space is to the rear. This breaks from the more common layout which lead customers along the back of the registers to the Produce Department. This store also lacks the produce back room area which ran along the side of the store just behind the Produce aisle. I have been in a couple other pitched-roof stores that had this same type of layout... the former Reading store at Greenwhich and North 6th street and the former Williamsport PA store on East 3rd Street next to the Kmart. I believe the Phillipsburg store also had this layout.

Many pitched-roof stores stared out with this turquoise color scheme. The tiles were often painted red in later years. You can see the red paint wearing off at the Parkesburg store to reveal their original turquoise colors. The fish-eye logo sign long gone here. The Parkesburg store helps remind us of what this store looked like back in the day...

My chance to say it once again... this is the BEST grocery store sign EVER! Now back to Paulsboro...

The additional tiles stacked up on the far left windows cover the store office area in the corner.

No support columns for the the awning over the entrance. Earlier, more deluxe pitched-roof models had an awning extending across the entire front of the store as seen at the Clayton location. Strangely the pitched-roof model shrank in size and became less deluxe as newer stores were built. 

No magic carpets! Notice too how the doors are not designated as entrance and exit. As in other pitched-roof models, the doors would have remained opened for the entire day until the store closed at night. There was no second set of doors inside. A powerful blast of air greeted customers upon enterting which would keep the outside air out and the inside air in.

Now for a fascinating look inside...

You can see here that there was not a second set of doors.

The department signage on this side of the store is a bit puzzling. This is the first time I've seen cursive lettering for an Acme of this particular era. I would venture to say that the original Produce lettering was switched out at some point. The Deli sign in the back looks to be an after thought rather than the more commonly seen "Corner Deli" lettering. 

Notice the drop ceiling tiles at this location. Nearly all pitched-roof stores have exposed ceilings. Some ceiling tiles looks to have been replace after the Acme closed. Can't image they would be looking so white after all these years.

Pretty incredible produce graphics in the front corner...

Looks like the second bowl lost it's fruit. Can't tell what the box to the left is. Notice the banana standing all the way to the right.

Odd to see no Meat Department signage in the back of the store. Perhaps it was removed. The sign all the way to the left read "Satisfaction Guaranteed".

As best as I can count, the store had seven aisles. About the going rate for pitched-roof stores of this size. 

The lettering on this sign as well as the Delicatessen sign appear to be more contemporary than the other signage in the store. Doubtful that these signs are original.

Far more interesting signage at this side of the store. Essentially an early version of the 70's Colonial Decor package.

"Smoked Meat" department back in the corner leaving a very limited space for Dairy. The shapes used for the Smoked Meat sign were common in the decor of the 60's through early 80's stores. You can see them at the former Somers Point store by clicking here. A colonial light fixture may have hung from the bracket there on the right up at the ceiling line.

Some scars left by removed signs or graphics on either side of the Dairy Department.

And now for a look at the Virginia Lee Bakery!

Virginia Lee was busy back in the 60's. Baking bread and cranking out the stockings...

Photos courtesy of Dave W

I'm not familiar to the extent of the Virginia Lee branding throughout the store. Seems to be Acme's answer to A&P's "Jane Parker" private label brand.

Ahhhh... the good ol' days!

Customer Service office. The bread delivery room is behind the brick wall. Customers look to have been served from this side of the office. The "front" which faces down the Dairy aisle may have been covered over to allow for shelving to be added to that side.

The office here is eerily similar to the one I spent many a year in counting out tills.

Notice at this store how the pitched-roof extends to to the Dairy wall. In most models there's a drop ceiling added over the Dairy aisle. This was done in stores who's pitch was much higher than the one here. You can see an example of this at Parkesburg...

The small room just beyond the shelf and cabinets is were cashiers would come to pick up and drop of their register drawers.

Cabinet added when register and computer systems were upgraded.

And one final look of the store through the eyes of the Head Cashier.

Now for a brief look around the store...

These shots were taken back when I was a little less adventurous with taking pictures, hence the lack of closeups. Can't even spot any second floor windows here.

Aeriel views...

Information on this store comes to us from joshaustin610: Began as a Grant City when the center openend in the 60's. Then became a King's in the late 70's until that chain folded. Ames later took over the space. Josh isn't sure if the store remained open until the chain when under in 2002. 

Historical aerials... 





Acme drawing a decent crowd back in 1970.


As the sun sets on the former Paulsboro store, Acme Style signs off for the year 2011.


  1. The store on the other end started out as a W. T. Grants, and at some point there was a Kmart in that part. The mayor of Paulsboro (john Burzicelli) wants to redevelop the center, but hasnt been having much luck.

    Out of curiosity, How do you take pictures like that? I could only get pictures of the deli and the dairy when I went there.

    Happy New Year!

    1. It wasn't a K-Mart, it was an Ames.

    2. It wasn't a K-Mart, it was an Ames.

    3. It was Grants, then K-Mart, then Ames.

  2. Here are my tricks for decent interior shots... press the camera lens directly against the window. This will eliminate glare and can help the window disappear from the photo altogether. To get shots of the sides and front areas, angle the camera right up against the glass and use a piece of cardboard to shield sunlight and glare from the outside. I then use Photoshop to ramp up the intensity of the pictures.

  3. Is it just me, or is there a bit more of a overhang on the roof, like the front was pushed back a bit. Maybe that is why there is no clayton style awning here.

  4. To the first poster: are you sure it was Kmart and not something similar? If you noticed in the post, it said there was Grant City, King's, and Ames. Doesn't sound like there could have been time for anything else but I could be wrong.

  5. Found some information on the Virginia Lee trademark:

  6. Finally! The Fresh Fruits & Vegetables in script! The Acme at W. Main Street in Plymouth, PA was the only other store I'd ever seen with it. I was beginning to think I'd imagined it.

  7. That signage might be close to its original era. The Plymouth, PA Acme would've been completely remodeled in 1972, because it was heavily damaged in the Agnes Flood ... then it stayed intact until it was closed in the early 1990s ... Like I said, I remember the graphics and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables in that script ... but was beginning to think I'd imagined it ... as I'd never seen it before or since in all the Acmes I'd been in ...

  8. In 1968, I made several trips to Paulsboro to watch this store being constructed. The "Fresh Fruits and Vegetables" in script and the background color was called "the Alpha Beta Decor Package," originating in Southern California and brought to Philadelphia in 1968 to update the pitched roof Acme at 3rd & Oregon. Apparently it didn't last very long, except at Paulsboro!

    I have never seen the "Virginia Lee Bakery" sign before. Virginia Lee was used on pastry, pies, and donuts. Bread was "Supreme." I remember as a child in the 1950's that the local American Store sold Virginia Lee Donuts, so I would guess the the trademark was used from 1950-1980, and maybe earlier.

    Paulsboro was never very far from Woodbury, and I would guess that Paulsboro closed when Woodbury was reconstructed in the early 1990's into the current fortress store.

  9. Bill Haines, when was the Acme at 3rd and Oregon given an expansion and a disguise for the pitched roof? I don't think that was 1968 because the store opened in 1964. But could it have been 1972 maybe? Or maybe 1980 when the Pathmark next door opened (THEY got to be co-anchor with Kmart that time).

  10. That script lettering for produce poses an interesting question which I'm not sure has ever addressed. Did Super Savers get the same decor package in remodels and/or new builds as conventional Acme stores? The reason I ask is because those script wall graphics look very similar to what they did in the Dunmore remodel around 1973 or so which resulted in that store being rebannered as a Super Saver. I seem to recall the actual lettering was green with white trim on a white background surrounded by a yellow border. There were also faux colonial style street lamp lights flanking the lettering. In this instance, the lettering matches but the wall color isn't even close. Maybe it's possible they used some elements between the two banners and others they didn't but that's just thinking out loud on my part I guess. Would make for a good discussion though.

  11. Mango,
    I think that 3rd & Oregon got the new look in 1980 when the Pathmark opened. Acme fought Pathmark in court, but lost, claiming that they were first in the redevelopment of the area. Also in 1980, they wanted the store to look like a 33M store, with the disguise!

  12. I was here earlier today, the back door was open, I almost went inside, but now I'm smacking myself for not going. The back storage rooms were alot like the rest of the store.

  13. Hi my name is mark I have been interested in this store for years. since I was 10 years old I tried to call the for lease phone number the guy told me he could not help me I was going to try to open it again but no luck . Thank you for these photos .

  14. The department store went from Grants to K-Mart to Ames. It was never a King’s. I’ve never heard of that store in this area. You can see a nice night-time exterior shot of this dead Acme looking like it has come back to life in the movie “Jersey Girl” – which was shot in Paulsboro in 2002. The store was “dressed” with signage and lighting and had “shoppers” going in and out. I was on the set that night, and it was very sad to see locals pull up to the Plaza so excited to see the grocery store open again, only to be disappointed to find out it was just for the movie. You can see a very brief of the resurrected store at 1:04 in this clip:

  15. it was a great store, my mom used to send me there everyday in the seventy's . and on Friday my brother and I went there to make money .lol asking people with help with there bags. they would give us there change. being 11 and 13 yrs old we did pretty good.. yes the people of paulboro were good to us .. smile the good old days......

  16. Hey Acme Style: I grew up in that store and given the angle of a few of those photos I can't see how they were take thru the windows, It's ok to admit you were there.

  17. I wish! All the pictures were taken through the windows. If I had gotten into the store, there'd be pictures of the back rooms and much clearer shots of the sides and back walls.

  18. You can see a photo of “Jersey Girl” director Kevin Smith and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond in front of this Acme by clicking here – but be warned that you will need to page down a bit through some foul language to get there:

  19. I have a feeling that there is a gorgeous fish-eye sign behind that wooden board on the front facade!

  20. The building has been condemned. The building's roof has gone bad, and is not worth replacing since there are plans to redevelop the land anyway. The 2 remaining businesses, ARC and Dollar General, have been closed or relocated.

    1. Update: The ACME's days are probably numbered. I swung by there yesterday, the ceiling tiles, lights, customer service booth, and most of the flooring were gone.

  21. There were plans to tear down the entire plaza, and build a new shopping center closer to the road. The plan has been revised, and now the former Acme will be renovated to become a Save-A-Lot. Details can be found here --

  22. This is a picture from the interior of a 1960s A&P in Southern California. Take a look at the signage.

  23. The store on the other end was a Grants, then K-mart, then Ames. The Acme probably closed due to the shopping center that was built by I-295, which included the Funari's store from Gibbstown. I used to work at the custard stand in front of Acme, which has changed ownership a few times. That shopping center has not been the same since the 90's.