Friday, September 27, 2013

All 80's Former Acme! Cambridge, Maryland

Photo courtesy of Dwayne Groton

An Acme Style All-Time Favorite!

Location: 630 Shoal Creek Mall, Cambridge, Maryland

Another Friday, another all-time favorite! This one came by surprise. Dwayne sent these photos in just days ago and I've been stunned by them ever since. The pictures you are about to see are the exact reason why I started Acme Style. Back in the early 2000's, I was relentlessly searching the web trying to find all sorts of pictures of Acmes and not coming up with much of anything. I desperately wanted to create a site where pictures just like these could be shared. Now what's even more remarkable about this post is that a picture of the abandoned Cambridge Acme did come up in my searches all those years ago. Ten years later I am now able to share pictures of both the exterior and extraordinary interior. A big thanks to Dwayne for sending them in!

This store opened in the 70's and closed in 2003. Dwayne was the grocery manager here. He provided some details about the history of the store...

When the store opened in the Seventies it had little competition, Safeway came and after that the store averaged in the 170k range. They closed in 1987 and the store did in the high 200k and made good money for a short time. Super Fresh opened in the Safeway and then Food Lion came along, after that Metro Food Market and a Wal-Mart (not a super center though). The store did a little over 100k after that and was losing alot of money. A little hope came along as Metro closed in the late 90's. The store didn't benefit as the business only increased around 10k. Corporate was threatening to close the store for years but we kept it alive as we started to shrink the deficit, actually making money the last quarter before the store closed. Albertsons also sent us remodel plans at one point but slowly pulled the plug on that after a year.The town never supported anything there as all the stores were cherry picked. Even a brand new Super Kmart closed in the 90's and the Wal-Mart never was busy as a typical Wal-Mart usually is, that is why I believe it stayed as a conventional store for as long as it did. In 2003 the lease did expire and the company finally gave up and we closed. The store was always a nice clean store and if the company tried they could have made it there. Super Fresh and Metro now gone, Food Lion is still there as well as Wal-Mart, I'm not sure if they are a super center now. 

A satellite image with all the surrounding competition Dwayne mentions is down below. For now, let's get ready to head inside...

The 80's remodel completely intact right down the layout! All of the changes and adjustments made at other 80's remolded stores were never made here. The Customer Service area seen may have been revamped after the CSR stand was killed off. Everything else is remarkably the same since grand reopening back in the late 80's.

As you can see, the store has been totally cleared out but remains in an very clean and orderly state. Aisle markers still hung, department names on the walls, and cases and shelving all still in place. It's like all the merchandise was raptured outta here! This is the absolute best look we've had so far at the 80's remodel. Could I be more excited about it? No. Let's take a look around...

The official 33M format Produce aisle! I've mentioned this before but we have never seen a picture of this area still intact. I talked it about last Friday in the Westmont post. We could see the drop ceiling in the Produce Department but the area had been opened up by removing the first aisle or two. Here we finally see the produce cases lining the right side of the department! Below is a shot from the former Fallston store where the cases have been removed and Produce expanded creating a much more open area. This was done at many 33M formats with or without a major remodel accompanying it.

Back to Cambridge...

Incredible shot here! We see Floral all the way in the front. Down at this end, we have the Cheese From Around the World case on the right and the Salad Bar on the left. Both cases remain from the 80's remodel. They didn't last this long in a lot of stores. The Salad Bar got the ax in the 90's in many locations.

The aisle markers remain since day one. They were not changed out during the 80's remodels.

Looks closely... Seafood has the ship streering wheels at each end of the blue stripe! They weren't always included. Sharon Hill and Secaucus didn't have them. We have seen them at the abandoned Newtown store and the former Adams Avenue store in Philly. Check out those Deli cases! Still kickin' from the 80's. Not sure if the Seafood cases are the same. It is remarkable that service seafood made it all the way to the end. This department was switched to self-serve cases at many locations as the 90's wore on.

The frozen cases look to be newer. Can't tell if the right side matches the left side. You can see more of those curved ceilings up in Bakery that I mentioned last week in the Westmont post.

The dairy cases look unchanged since the 80's. Great shot of the Dairy wall too. First time we're seeing those blue an yellow columns on the blog. This store had high ceilings and a lot of wall space unlike Sharon Hill and Secaucus. Dwayne is making an appearance in our last few pictures...

I believe this store had a Bakery before the 80's remodel. The 33M stores built in the late 70's and early 80's usually had them included. They were expanded in the remodel. This whole area looks completely unchanged since the 80's. Nice little "Cake Decorating" sign about above the service counter.

Great look at the front-end! Staggered registers. Not something I've seen before. The checkout stands remain from the 80's remodel. My store had the same exact ones but we didn't get the remodel, dammit. And the famous Acme clock on the right side in an unusual spot. They're hung over the exit in most stores.

Now for a look at some of the back room areas...

I believe this is the break room. The orange floor remains intact from day one! These were the same tiles used in the Deli and Meat Department for the 70's Colonial decor package.

A look at the competition and former competition in the area. Satellite views are very limited with no up close views available. Kmart and Metro Food (not sure if that's the correct logo) both appear to be abandoned in this image.

The correct Metro logo above sent in by Will. This is an old plastic bag from the store.

Update 9.26.13: Additional photos from Ben of Delaware. These were taken about a year ago...

Abandonded Kmart.

fresh & green's has taken over the former Super Fresh which closed back in 2011...

Back to the former Acme...

A screen grab from google maps. The Acme is still abandoned as of today. Not sure what the condition of the interior is at this point. If anyone is in the area and can get us some pictures, I'd love to add them to this post.

A more up-to-date view on Bing Maps shows a Walgreen's having been built on the site of the Acme. Ross K informed us in the comments that the Acme was torn down in 2009.

Thanks again to Dwayne for a trip back to the 80's!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

News Break:

"Acme Markets on the comeback trail"
An interesting article by Gary Puleo at MAINLINEMediaNews details the changes underway at the King of Prussia Acme. While the store is not receiving a full remodel, several departments have been rearranged and the store has been thoroughly cleaned and refreshed. Gary talks with Acme President Jim Perkins about the changes at the store and the company's new focus on low prices. No details on how the changes are impacting overall sales but Perkins does mention Acme being up 8 points in an industry rating system. You can read the full article by clicking here. Thanks to AbercrombieMike for sending in a link to the article.

Location: 320 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia PA

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Classic Acme! Westmont, New Jersey

An Acme Style All-Time Favorite!

Location: 400 Cuthbert Road, Westmont, NJ

Doesn't look like much from the outside but don't let that dissuade you from seeing what's inside! The exterior treatment here is among the worst you'll ever see on an Acme. Bland... personality... it's just one big giant bore. I had myself all prepared to be equally underwhelmed by the interior. Turns out, you can't judge this book by its cover! I was completely shocked to find the classic 33M layout still intact inside. Nicely remodeled with the Albertsons Marketplace decor package but the layout and physical attributes remain intact from decades ago. It was a thrill to tour this store. Had I know the treasures lurking inside, I would have visited this Acme long ago!

Still going strong today, the Westmont Acme opened way back in February 1960. The picture below shows the store in it's Colonial Cottage glory back in 1990...

Westmont NJ Acme 1174 in 1990
Classic photo from JSF0864's flickr photostream

This photo is from a newspaper article showing how the store looked in 1990, courtesy of John's flickr collection. A little more welcoming than today. The red-oval sign will always be superior to the currnent block letter treatment... as far as I'm concerned. It is a little tricky tracing the exact history of how this store evolved over the years. After studying the historic aerial photos and the interior, I've concluded that the store began as a standard 50's model, expanded to a Colonial Cottage model in the late 60's, then expanded once again with the interior being converted to the classic 33M layout in the 70's. In the 2000's, the exterior received its current look with interior being remodeled but the 33M layout left surprisingly unaltered.

Fasten your seat belts, we're heading inside...

Wow! The drop ceiling of the 33M format is still above Produce. Back in the day, produce cases would have been lined up right down the center of this photo, facing the right side of the store. This created a closed in aisle all the way back to the Deli. Aisle 1 would have been just the left of the drop ceiling section. Produce has since been expanded, killing off the former first aisle.

The Produce aisles of the 33M stores were like a cave. Dark, narrow and cramped. To see how this area would have looked back in the 70's, jump over to the Coal Township store by clicking here.

Would you look at this. The curved ceilings that I have mentioned so many times when talking about the 33M format. I've struggle to get good pictures of these for the blog. Westmont to the rescue! We have seen these in the former Jersey City store but the drop ceiling there didn't extend all the way to the Deli. And that decor in Jersey is the absolute worst ever.

The Corner Deli still in the corner!

To see what this are would have looked like after the 80's remodel, click here. To jump back another decade to the 70's, click here.

Seafood and the Deli look to have traded spots since the 80's. Seafood now resides in the "Butcher Block" department along with the newly added meat service counter.

This store has a pleasant version of the Albertsons Marketplace decor package along with the Premium Fresh and Healthy aisle markers.

No wavy category markers up and down the aisles.

The Westmont Acme was incredibly clean and well stocked. The floors absolutely impeccable.

Sturdy supports down this aisle possibly due to an exterior wall being located here prior to a past expansion.

Yep, the emergency doors all the way in the front were left open for customers to use.

Nice floor treatment! This tile pattern is often seen in newly built Albertson Marketplace stores. Pretty sure I've never seen it in a remodel. Most stores keep their 90's floor pattern or their 80's checkerboard floor. Westmont got the deluxe treatment. Probably helped that former Acme President Judy Spires began her supermarket career as a checkout clerk at this very store.

Nice new Dairy cases, all with doors...

Unbelievable find here! The 70's Colonial Decor above the dairy cases is still intact. I thought my eye were playing tricks on me. I believe this is the first time we are seeing this 70's element on the blog.

A closer look at the wood tiled awning. Back in the 70's, the Dairy departments had a barn-like theme to them. The dairy cases once ended where the roof line ends. They now extend much further...

The Bakery remains in its original spot with very few changes made to its layout over the years. You can see the similiarites with the 33M formatted store in Middlesex by clicking here.

More curved drop ceilings! These were all the rage in late 70's and early 80's Acmes. One item on my wish list that I still hope to get someday... pictures of the shimmery gold and brown wallpaper that was used in the Bakery departments back in the 70's. Not sure if any will ever turn up at this point. I've managed to get much of the 70's look up on the blog thanks in large part to this annual report from 1978. (Scroll down until you get to the interior pictures)

Despite being a relatively small store with dated layout, Westmont maintains very high standards, out living a larger more modern nearby Super Fresh. The Bakery was particularly impressive.

Another curve!

So this was an odd situation...

The emergency door left open for customers to use. Certainly helpful for those parking at this end of the store which was necessary on the busy day that I was here. They should really turn this into an official entrance and exit.

Heres a look from the outside. Exciting, huh?

Greeting cards along the front which is a nice alternative to junking this area up with random merchandise. The area between the Bakery and checkouts was pleasantly uncluttered.

Front-end with its classic 33M layout. Click here for a look at a similar set-up at a former 33M formatted store in Philadelphia. The air vents are even in the same spot!

The exit vestibule. While it is looking quite new here, this treatment was very common back in the 70's and 80's,

The original Produce receiving doors, retrofitted with the Colonial Cottage decor. The historic images indicate that the entrance and exit for the 50's model, as well as the Colonial Cottage remodel, were located at the other end of the store. They were generally at the opposite side of the Produce receiving doors. You can see an example of this at the Manasquan store by clicking here.

The empty stores next door to the Acme. The windows here were made to look like Acme's windows during the Colonial Cottage era.

Aerial Views...

The original Acme building outlined in red. Sections have been added to the left side at two different times in the store's history.

Tough to see elements from the original building along the back. This is the closet you can zoom in on bing maps.

The vacant stores are leaving the Acme an opportunity to expand... yet again!

The Acme's main source of competition has been a Super Fresh located just down the road. A&P pulled the plug on this store back in January of this year. A nearby Thriftway recently jumped into the former SuperFresh space.

An aerail view of the Super Fresh when it was still open. This part of the shopping center was once home to a W.T. Grant store which later became a Clover. A picture of the center back in the day is just below...

Westmont Plaza 0376
An A&P was located at the far right of the plaza...

A&P Westmont N.J. 1982
Classic photos above from JSF0864's flickr photostream

Super Fresh Store 468 Westmont NJ
The A&P switched banners and buildings taking over a portion of the Clover department store. The picture above is from John's flickr collection and shows the SuperFresh sign on the store. It is mounted to the building to the left of the entrance instead of above the entrance which is the more usual spot for the sign.

No sign on the store now but it is open. I wasn't sure what was going on here.

There is a Thriftway banner hanging just inside the doors but why there are none hanging on the building is a mystery.

The interior has the very basic Super Fresh "Fresh" decor. Very little was done to the store other than painting some walls and putting some pictures on the walls. Thriftway has signs posted around the store saying a remodel is in progress. There are no indications of that being true. The signs seem to be more of an excuse for all the empty shelves and displays.

Empty cases abound...

Looks like Thriftway is in above it's head in this giant location. You have to wonder if Super Fresh couldn't make it here, how's Thriftway going to pull it off with less selection?

Plenty of Super Fresh's original decor remains. For a look at the previous decor, click here.

Ailes and ailes of bottled drinks. Thriftway doesn't appear to have the resources to fill this entire store with merchandise just yet.

The store was surprisingly busy despite its very tentative conditions.

Thriftway's former home about a mile away on Crystal Lake Avenue. You can check out an artivle about the the move on the Haddon Patch by clicking here.

Historic Aerials...

As the store is today with the block letter sign over the entrance.

In 2002, the storefront was still formatted as a Colonial Cottage model. The sign was at the center of the building. 

Check out that parking lot... jam packed! The A&P may not have jumped over to it's new home at this point. The store looks to have been expanded for a second time by 1995. The building looks slightly wider. Additions look to have been made to the back as well.

An expansion clearly done to the left side of the store here. It was present in the 1967 image below...

With the new addition, I would imagine the building was converted from a 50's model to the Colonial Cottage model of the late 60's. This would be evidenced by the decorative woodwork added to the Produce receiving doors along with the windows and awnings in the picture from John's flickr collection.

The original Acme doing some very decent business! We don't often see these giant parking lots occupied with this many cars. You can see in this image, and even better in the one below, that the entrance and exit was located on the left side of the store. They appear to have switched to their current location when the store was extensively remodeled with the 33M layout. 

Just a few years after opening. The two neighboring store didn't arrive until several years later. We saw them first in the 1967 image.


You would never know it from the outside but the Westmont Acme is a must-see location for the serious Acme fan!