Friday, June 7, 2013

Acme — Lawrenceville, NJ

Location: 2497 Brunswick Avenue/Route 1, Lawrenceville NJ

Returning to the Lawrenceville Acme today for full coverage. I have been to this store numerous times over the past few years but have never gotten enough photos to do a full post. Got plenty now! It's one of those locations that gets more interesting every time I visit. Get ready for an extensive tour.

One of the most interesting things about this location... it is very busy! Busier every time I've been. Surprising since there has been a slew of new competition in the area in just the past 10 years or so. The one advantage Acme has is being further south than all the new stores that are located in shopping malls along Route 1. The closest new competitor is a ShopRite that opened in the mid 2000's located about 5 miles north. Other stores a bit further beyond that include Wegmans, Target, WalMart, Trader Joe's and one of the largest Whole Foods which is located in a former Pathmark. There is also another ShopRite about 4 miles east of the Acme in Ewing Township. While all of these stores have certainly pulled business away from the Acme over the years, business here still seems very good thanks to competition keeping itself a decent distance away.

Discussions following the original post peg the store opening in the early 80's. It began as a Pantry Pride which Acme acquired in 1979. I suspect the Panty Pride was the right half of the current Acme with another store being on the left side. You can see from both the current and historic images that the Acme is a combination of two neighboring buildings. We'll also see evidence of that inside. (Update: Well I had that backwards. I originally meant to say the Pantry Pride was on the right side but said left. The big clue about which side housed the Pantry Pride is shown in a picture down below)

UPDATE 6.11.13: Picture of Pantry Pride now available! 
Please click here to see the Pantry Pride while it was open for business. Thanks to Charlie for sending in the link.

Lawrenceville first made an appearance on the blog back in nearly 2 years ago after the letter M on the front of the store caught fire. You can jump over to that post by clicking here. The fire damage can be seen below...

Photo above is courtesy of AceJay. The fire happened shortly after repairs were made to the M which hadn't worked for about a year.

If you look closely at the facade, you can see the replaced siding around the M and E.

This is the lone entrance door which opens to a small foyer. Through the foyer is a set of double doors that lead into the store...

A quick look to the section next to the entrance. This glass wall leads over to the exit which is beyond the right edge of the photo. Notice the 2 emergency exit doors. These must bring a lot of confusion for shoppers unfamiliar with the store. Seems unusual to have 2 emergency exits so close to other exit options.

A look across the front-end.

Looking over towards the entrance from Produce. Bread lines the front wall. The Bakery is the left-hand corner...

American Stores last remodel package... the Chalkboard Market Decor! Done here in either the late 90's or very early 2000's.

The chalkboard seen here recently bit the dust...

The Bakery sign was moved from above the service counter to being mounted on the wall among the cake case. The chalkboards make or break this decor package. Interesting to note that I found the store looking better than ever on my most recent visit. Very clean and well stocked. Judging from this location alone, it looks as though the new owners of Acme are having a positive impact.

Produce in the back corer. Looking how much better than the Bakery with all the brightly colored chalkboards.

Returning to the front of the store with the Deli across from Produce.

The Floral case seems a little out of place here. It blocks the small Prepared Foods department which is next to the Deli. Floral have been relocated since the remodel. It is more commonly located down near the Health and Beauty section.

Chalkboards here looking very faded. Floral and the entrance are to the far left of this photo.

Around the back corner of the Deli heading over to the Meat Department and Fisherman's Net.

Some creative tiling there on the floor.

I guess it's better to make it look crazy than match what was originally there.

The Deli was most likely in this area as well prior to the Chalkboard Market remodel.

The hanging lamps along the back have been switched out for florescent tubes. You can see a picture of them hanging in the Shrewsberry store by clicking here.

Brand new freezers looking pretty sharp. Sorely missing category markers along the top. Frozen Food is in aisles 3 and 4 out of 13 which is pretty unusual. I believe this is due to the compressor room being located along the far right side of the store rather than the back. We'll see evidence of this when we head outside.

Old school lights remain over the center of the store. These were often switched out for hanging florescent light tub fixtures which you can see in the abandoned Rockaway store by clicking here.

These columns look to be the split between the two buildings. They certainly make for some interesting obstacles for shoppers. Notice the ceiling height changes along this divide.

Along the back wall in the Dairy section. Doors to the back room are off the right edge of the photo. There is no door in that far back corner. This store is certainly not lacking support columns.

Custom aisle signs for these low hanging ceilings. This is looking back towards the Dairy wall.

Aisle 13 is very claustrophobic.

No yogurt here but there is plenty of Jello.

Health and Beauty in the front corner. No Pharmacy here.

Looking across the front-end from the Customer Service area.

And now we're back at the entrance looking over towards the registers. I over heard a customer inquiring if the store was hiring and the employee said they had openings. Her tone indicated they were looking to doing a lot of hiring. The front-end was heavily staffed when I was here.

The single exit door on this side.

The abandoned CVS on the left side of the Acme. CVS relocated to a free-standing store a short distance north of this shopping center. This space seems ripe for Acme to expand into but that doesn't appear to be in the cards as it has sat empty for a few years now. We'll have to see what the new owners have in store for upgrades throughout the chain. I haven't heard of any new remodels or expansion plans for any stores other than ones that were started under SuperValu's leadership.

Recent upgrades to the facade of this aging shopping center. Several vacancies throughout the center.

The side of the store looking more like the back! I'm guessing that the Pantry Pride was originally located in this half. The compressors being located here is probably the reason the Frozen Food department is located so close to the Produce side of the store.

Brand-new cart corals throughout the parking lot!

Aerial Views...

The original split between the two buildings is clearly seen from above. 

Historic Aerials...





The parking lot is packed in 1970!




  1. Wonderful coverage of a chalkboard market store, there used to be one near the moorestown mall in Moorestown NJ off NJ41. I forget what decor package it has now, but it started out as a smaller store and expanded into a Rite Aid (or was it CVS)

    One problem, you did get the address wrong, it is 2495 not 1485

    1. Thanks Steve, I changed it to 2497 since that's the address listed on Acme's website. I meant to look into this before posting as I was coming across several different numbers for the address.

  2. You mentioned the two emergency exits and their somewhat unusual location.

    Looking at the photos, they appear to be pretty much under the ACME sign, if I am correct?

    Then looking at the overhead shot, that sign is not too far right of the divide in the roof, thus putting it close to what would have been the front left corner of the store before it was expanded?

    So is is possible that those doors were an original entry/exit (since the store was not an Acme originally it might have had a different set-up than an Acme of that time)?

    1. Yes, the emergency exits are underneath the sign.The whole glass enclosed foyer does look relatively new so I'm not sure about those doors being used for previous tenants. I forgot to investigate for scars of old entrances and exits along the entire front of the store.


    hey Acme Style, this is a link to a photo of the old Lawrence Pantry Pride. I could not figure out how to extract the photo from Google Books.

    1. Thanks Charlie! I updated the post with the link you sent.

  4. Welcome back, finally!

    I seem to remember those emergency exits being so close because there was a wall separating them. I think Customer Service, floral, or the Starbucks might have bee there in the middle, before the Self-scan aisles were put in. I think the vestibules and that front extension were added sometime in the 90's.

  5. How many stores currently have this decor?

  6. Ah, I Love Reading Acme Style In The Morning, And Munching On My Acme-Brand Crackers.

  7. Here is a picture of the Pantry Pride from Lawrenceville Historical Society:

  8. Thanks for a great post on a great store. The Pantry Pride received a gorgeous exterior upgrade soon after the photo in Charlie's link of 06/11/13 was taken. The white brick areas were enlarged vertically and covered with large precast (concrete?) panels "embossed" with the outlines of various types of food, e.g., roasts (same idea as the "fruit arches" in the West Goshen Acme, but larger), and the remodel used PP's new blue-with-script logo. A straight-roof Penn Fruit on Roosevelt Boulevard got the same treatment. Pantry Pride's slogan then was "America's Pantry, Building for the Future"; alas, that future was not to be, but it's good to see the buildings live on in their intended use!