Saturday, February 8, 2014

Acme — Exton, PA



Location: 111 West Lincoln Highway, Exton, PA


Another January, another round of store closings announced for Acme. It has been a dreaded tradition ever since Acme Style started back in 2009. Fortunately, only two stores were on the list for this round. Exton, seen here, and Westtown, to be posted next Friday, are scheduled to close on February 20th. In previous years we've seen lists 4 to 5 stores long with other scattered throughout the year. That trend too a break in 2013 with only one store closing for the whole year… Mantua. The mass closings that were predicted when Cerberus acquired Acme from SuperValu have not happened. In fact, the new owners appear very committed to getting Acme out of the death spiral that SuperValu sent it on back in 2006. Unfortunately not enough was done to save Exton and Westtown.

The closing of these particular locations came as a surprise to me. I hadn't received any tips that either store was in danger. What's interesting is that each store is simply finishing out its lease with Acme choosing not to renew. Somewhat of a switch from the SuperValu days when stores were closed and left abandoned long before the leases were up. Whether or not these stores were currently profitable, competition had been heating up for both locations and Acme clearly decided to get out while it could. I'm a little surprised Exton made it as long as it has with Giant, Walmart and Target practically within walking distance and a relatively new Wegmans less than 3 miles away. Westtown currently faces competition from a recently remodeled Giant. Add to that, a new Wegmans planned for Concord Township is nearing final approval. If approved, the Acme in Glen Mills could take a hit. I visited that store the same day I was here in Exton. I can say, without a doubt, it was the busiest Acme I have ever been in. It was doing ShopRite level business. Packed parking lot. Every register open with customers. Not to mention the store is beautiful and has some features that I've never seen in an Acme. We'll be taking a closer look at Glen Mills in a few weeks. For now, let's return to Exton...


I always try to stay on top of closings so I can get the stores photographed before the liquidation begins.  That didn't happen with Exton or Westtown. Employees were notified of the closings on January 10th. Liquidation began on the 17th. Acme was serious about getting out of these stores quickly.




According to a comment left on the blog previously, Exton opened in 1997 replacing the previous Acme which has since been torn down. I don't have any information on the original Acme. There is a great deal of discussion about this store in the comments section of the January 17th post. A bit more than I can piece together to paint an accurate picture of the history here. You can visit that post by clicking here.


This sign doubles as a list for the stores coming soon to Acme Style!


10% off wasn't exactly drawing them in. The store was dead on a Saturday afternoon. It appeared that some inventory was being packed up to be shipped out to other stores.


Most of the Produce Department is empty. The sliding glass doors you see on the right leads out to the former Garden Center which is now being used for storage.




The fruit bar and salad bar have been shut down and cleared out.


Remnants of the 90's Red/White/Blue decor remain. The keystones above the fake windows have all been removed however.














The 10 for $10 signage seen here is the design used at Shaw's.












No Pharmacy at this store. Creates a somewhat dead space in this corner of the store.










The Garden Center on the right side of the store...






There are comments on the January 17th post that say that Acme began as a Hechinger's which may explain the existence of this garden center.




This sign is on the side of the building that faces Lincoln Highway. Notice the bottom of the "M"… looks like the plastic has melted a bit from the lights inside.


The back of the store.


Well this was a nice sight to see after the depressing tour of the store. A mint-condition trailer with the red-oval logo!



Aerial Views...









A look at the intense competition...


How on Earth is the Kmart still going?


Now over to the Giant! Brand-new facade here and it is looking fine. Such a huge improvement over the previous design which you can see below in an older aerial image...


This is how most Giants look these days. I've never been a fan of the lifeless brick wall that extends between the entrances. The fake windows and awnings that have been added are a huge improvement.


This Giant is in the midst of a floor to ceiling remodel. Probably one of the factors for Acme deciding not to renew its lease. Starbucks to be added soon. Remember when Acmes had Starbucks? And then they didn't? And now their competitors do. I don't understand it.


So this was news to me. Beer can be not be sold in grocery stores in PA. It used to be available only at distributors (aka beer stores). Liquor and wine is sold exclusively at state stores which I believe is still the case.

Update: JoshAustin610 left a nicely detailed explanation in the comments section about the beer situation in Pennsylvanian supermarkets….

Grocery stores carrying beer in PA is basically a big loophole; because restaurants are allowed to sell a small amount of takeout beer, supermarkets that carry prepared foods like salads or hoagies are considered "restaurants" and allowed to sell beer as well. They have to have their own register which can only sell beer and food, and a separate seating area even if no one uses it. Wegmans was the first store to try it in PA; once they were able to do it (despite the opposition from distributors and independent restaurants) Weis and Giant Eagle followed, then finally Giant, which has it in the least amount of stores so far.


Gone is the cartoon decor. Kinda sad. Giant is losing all of it's personality and becoming one homogenized mess with Stop&Shop and Giant/MD. It is a nice decor package for sure but completely ditches all of the branding that used to make Giant unique. At least they're not putting the fruit bowl on the front of the stores.


You can take a look at the previous decor here by jumping over to the Limerick Giant. (Scroll down below the Acme photos)


The remodel is still in progress. The Bakery will soon be relocated to this area in the back corner. Funny how Giant used to have their bakeries next to produce in the 80's, then they moved them to the far corner in the 90's remodels/new stores and are now bringing them back to the produce side.




Health food department is located in its own department in the back of the store.






I really don't care for the promotional signage. Some nice photography of meat would be more appropriate for this wall.




The frozen food aisle is still undergoing changes.


I suppose these awesome ice cream cone signs are headed for the dumpster any day now. Such a shame.






The Bakery remains untouched as its new home is being prepared. I hope they're moving all the ovens and cases as everything still looks new. Giant has been on relentless remodeling frenzy since the early 90's. Anyone remember Giant back in the 80's? Man, did they have stores that were absolute dumps. I do appreciate how they keep all their stores looking the same unlike Acme which has about 10 different decor packages going on at once.


The new decor stops at the end of the dairy aisle. I believe frozen food cases will be put into this corner once the bakery is moved.


The Bakery has so much personality now. The new one will have none.


The Pharmacy is still sporting the old decor.


A look across the front-end. The iconic Giant register lights all gone. You can have a look at them by clicking here.


A classic Giant commercial from 1991 staring Giant's President, Allan Noodle. The commercials always started out with Allan saying "I want to be honest with you…" Back then Giant prided itself on not requiring customers to have a card for sale items. They ran commercials for a few years touting this feature and then out of no where… they required a card for savings. Still, Giant was a great supermarket in the 90's. It's among my all time favorite chains along with Acme and Grand Union. After I relocated to New Jersey in the early 2000's, I had to give up Giant cold turkey. It was not an easy thing to do.



Historic Aerials...


Acme 2008


 Acme 2002



Giant 2002 


1968
Jumping all the way back to 1968 when there was nothing. No additional aerials views are available to explore the evolution of these stores.


33 comments:

  1. I been to one of the giants (bensalem) in my area thats been remodeled. Let me tell you about it, the giant was built in the turn of the 21st century. It originally came with the green cream scheme, you know where the marketplace deli that occupied corners of most giants. The soups and salads occupied the corner next to produce. The bensalem giant also had a carryout cafe and sit in area that was phased out during the remodel.

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  2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrambojr/sets/72157633552982255/with/7748703076/ This is what it looked like before it's remodel

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    1. I also took photos of during and after looks at the Bensalem GIANT.

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    2. What about the before photos.

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    3. I have photos of the before look: They are in my set "GIANT (PA) Bensalem: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrambojr/sets/72157633552982255/

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  3. Grocery stores carrying beer in PA is basically a big loophole; because restaurants are allowed to sell a small amount of takeout beer, supermarkets that carry prepared foods like salads or hoagies are considered "restaurants" and allowed to sell beer as well. They have to have their own register which can only sell beer and food, and a separate seating area even if no one uses it. Wegmans was the first store to try it in PA; once they were able to do it (despite the opposition from distributors and independent restaurants) Weis and Giant Eagle followed, then finally Giant, which has it in the least amount of stores so far.

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    1. Thanks for the explanation Josh! I noticed the seating area in the Westtown Giant and it seemed a little out of place by the beer. Now it all makes sense.

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  4. The new Weis in Huntingdon Valley, PA sells beer as well. They have a few tables for seating at their 'cafe' (which is nothing compared to Wegmans), but I've never seen anyone eating there.

    As for Starbucks, Giant only got into the game from the Genuardi's takeover.

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    1. I had heard some talk of Giant-Carlisle stores getting Starbucks, but nothing ever materialized. Looks like it is coming true after all.

      Speaking of Giant, does anyone know the official name of the fruit bowl/fruit slices? A manager told me once, but I have completely forgotten what they call it. Maybe I'll have to ask another one what it is called...

      And speaking of beer, the new-ish Whole Foods in Chadds Ford has beer. I was there right after it opened, and people were trying to take the beer to the regular registers to check out. It was a big mess. See, they have this tiny little "pub" in the front corner of the store, and that is where you have to pay for the beer. But most of the beer is displayed outside of the pub area along its outer walls.

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  5. Kmart can often weather Walmart and Target as it is very efficient with costs and has a VERY loyal clientele. I have rarely seen Kmart close without a fight. A lot of the times it is the landlord who wants to develop the shopping center into new land and has new tenants
    waiting

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    1. Can't say that I've seen any of what you said to be true.

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    2. Kind of an odd tangent here, but I took a series of photos inside that Exton Kmart on 7/10/09 focusing on the lame/bizarre merchandise they were selling. Poor displays and other assorted items. Acmestyle, if you want these photos, let me know.

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    3. Thanks for the offer but if they're just merchandise shots, I'll have to pass. I avoid posting photos that focus too heavily on a store's merchandise. More interested in decor, architecture and layout.

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  6. I think Ahold must be trying to roll out one decor package for all of their stores regardless of division. I've been in a couple of Giant-MD stores that have the decor package that the Giant-PA store in this post has. It will be interesting to see how far Ahold goes. Ahold seems to be only remodeling the stores that have the "market" area with the produce, bakery, seafood and prepared foods together. However the vast majority of the Giant-MD stores were remodeled with the all white Stop and Shop package but the store layout remained what it was when the stores were originally built.

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  7. I was at the ACME yesterday. Everything is now 30% off. The "C" on the front sign has burned out. I don't imagine they are in a hurry to fix that.

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  8. I stopped in today (Sunday) and I was the only person in the store. The main problem with this store is that nobody has sunk a single cent into the place. Typical Acme, run and hide. STOP RUNNING AWAY AND FIGHT YOUR COMPETITION! That store was left for the dead long ago, and the new owners did nothing to improve the place. Hell even the horrible kmart is still in business across the street. You should have just went to the Acme in Paoli, thats the nicest Acme around!

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  9. well maybe if I would have read the entire post before opening my big mouth, I may have seen your little hint earlier :P Sorry, I was in a fit of rage.

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  10. My S&S just recently got this decor as well, despite being rebuilt 9 years ago. It's had Starbucks for a while, though, which is a rarity in S&S-land.

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    1. Is it a rarity? It seems like most S&S's I go to have Starbucks. The large ones anyway. Maybe it's just a coincidence that the few random ones I frequent just so happen to have a Starbucks. This decor is a major improvement over S&S's last round of the yellow/purple/fruit-bowl-everywhere decor. In my opinion, it's a step up for S&S and step down for Giant.

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    2. There's only about 15-20 S&S locations with Starbucks in them. They closed a bunch of kiosks a few years ago. There are a few not listed in the S&S Starbucks locator, but it's not a common thing at all now.

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  11. Some things to add:

    * Yup, that store was a Hechinger originally. They moved to Downingtown where coincidentally Wegman's is now. Not sure about dates, but that Wegman's has been there for a LONG time (10-15 years I think). The Acme was originally where the post office sits on the Exton Square property.

    * That Kmart is gone in 2016 when the mall takes over the lease. This assumes the company doesn't go under before that...

    * IMO, I liked Giant back in the Allan Noddle days. Stores may not have been all pretty as they are now (and that's up for debate) but at least their prices were decent back then (no cards, 10% off 'prepriced' items, etc). Nowadays it's more 'we don't suck quite as bad as most everyone else' than anything else.

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    1. Wegman's opened in 2004, so 10 years. God I feel old now. It feels like yesterday when my mom took me to their grand opening.

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    2. I remember they wanted the prescription files from Phar-Mor when they closed in 2002; the store wasn't ready yet so they took over the Phar-Mor as their first and only "Wegmans Pharmacy" until the main store opened.

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    3. Wegman's Downingtown opened March 2003.

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  12. New Giant decor is horrible. Really is a shame they got rid of the old decor. It's funny because the store in Philadelphia and Mount Joy opened with the new decor and then later Trexlertown opened with the old decor.

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  13. Signs are now down. The shelves are currently being removed. The bakery at Giant has now moved, and the old one has been covered up with a tarp. The décor has been removed from the pharmacy.

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  14. Giant's grand re-opening is today. The remodel is concluded, with the exception of adding a Citizen's bank, which was probably an afterthought conceived when the one at ACME closed. The ACME still is mostly furnished, some shelves have been taken down, but are still stacked up in the building. Any ides what's up there?

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  15. This Acme did start out as Hechinger. I worked at Hechinger here in Exton from 1993-1995 before relocating. Just as I was relocating, Hechinger was in the process of relocating to the shopping center further up route 30 in Downingtown. That was in 1996, which to the best of my knowledge is in fact when Acme moved in to the location at the Whiteland Town center.

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    1. Exton Acme opened May 4 1997

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  16. In addition, the property where this entire shopping center exists use to be the Exton Drive-In movie theater.

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  17. Kinda long post.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that its possible that the garden center wasn't a unique leftover--several Albertsons in Baton Rouge, Houston, and Phoenix were built with outdoor garden centers. Whatever garden centers operating by 2006 were axed with the Cerberus takeover, though.

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    1. I make 'em as long as I want. You are under no obligation to read or view any post on this blog.

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