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... unwelcoming...zero 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...


2007
As the store is today with the block letter sign over the entrance.


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


1995
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.


1970
An expansion clearly done to the left side of the store here. It was present in the 1967 image below...


1967
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.


1965
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. 


1963
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.


1957


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

8 comments:

  1. At the time you took those pictures of thriftway, they had just moved into the building. It is always well stocked now, and they carry slot of things the acme doesn't.

    This acme was opened as a super saver. In the 90's, when the big acme stores were all the rage, acme considered expanding this store. However, there was a dry cleaner in one of the now empty stores that refused to move. Acme decided to expand Audubon as the super store instead.

    This store just went through a small renovation about a year ago. That is when the expanded the product section. They also put new doors up and put the meat counter in.

    Finally, those exit doors are hardly ever open. I lived in westmont for thirty plus years, and I think this is the first time I have ever seen them open!

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    1. I agree about those doors. lol. I honestly didn't even know there were doors there. Have lived in town for 37 years

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  2. If I had to guess, this store never got the 80’s remodel. Most 33M Acmes, which got the 80’s remodel, kept their checkerboard flooring through subsequent remodels unless the store was significantly re-arranged. The lack of any 80’s flooring here leads me to believe that this store must have gone straight from the 70’s colonial décor to, most likely, the checkerboard arch look and then to the Albertson’s Marketplace décor.

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  3. This is a great profile for a great Acme.

    I was surprised that the Westmont SF was closed earlier this year, cause I always thought it was a high-volume store. There are only three SF stores left in NJ (and twenty-two total), so I am sad to say that I expect the name to be gone in a few years.

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  4. While not related to the Westmont store, here's a great recent article on the King of Prussia ACME. I think this could be made into it's own mini post:
    http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2013/09/19/main_line_times/news/business/doc5239a5803610b286559980.txt?viewmode=fullstory

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    Replies
    1. I'll put up a New Break tomorrow with this link. Thanks AbercrombieMike!

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  5. there was also an EPIC movie theater where the empty space is to the right of the now empty stores. I believe the theater building was torn down in the mid to late 80's.

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