Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Former Acme — East Hanover, NJ

Location: 235 Route 10, East Hanover, NJ

The Acme in East Hanover opened in January 1960. Closing date is unknown but the satellite images indicate that Acme left by 1979. I have been to this location a number of times trying to get some decent pictures. The one you see above and below were taken two years ago nearly to the day. I had made a special trip on a Sunday when the tire shop that now occupies the building was supposed to be closed. While that may have been the case, there were still plenty of employees on the property to foil my plans. I've decided to finally go ahead and post what I have after yet another tip came in about this location being a former Acme.

Along the left side we can see the two former produce doors. The third door was most likely added later.

This is a shot from across Route 10. Not an easy building to photograph with it being right on Route 10 and having roads running along two other sides of the property…

Not much to see along the back with an addition covering over the former delivery doors. The section coming out of the side with the dark roof has been with the building since 1963. The Acme in Brick Township had a similar section along the side, although it was smaller than what is seen here. Click here for a look.

Historic Aerials… 





Slow day at the Acme in 1970. You'd almost think it was closed until you look across the street...

Two guys was doing great business!





  1. As a native of East Hanover, I don’t think that this Acme lasted beyond the early 70’s. Phil Gogel probably moved his shop from down Route 10 in the mid-70s. Also, the door to on the front left side (below the sign that now reads “Auto Sales Rentals”) was the entrance to the separate Wilner’s Liquor store. (I remember it well because it was where we used to buy our cases of Brookdale soda.)

  2. Wow, I worked in Florham Park for several years and used to pass by this location hundreds of times and I never imagined this tire shop started out as an Acme. You are right, this is an extremely busy traffic spot, very difficult to navigate today because of the light, etc... I wonder how long after the Pathmark across the street in the shopping center (now a Dick's Sporting Goods & Marshalls) came along, must have been the late 70's or early 80's...?

  3. Two Guys hung on until 1981 or so. It would be what we now call a super center (including an in-store supermarket, which is what killed the Acme, plus a bar at its liquor store) and took up the entirety of what is now Dick’s and Marshall’s plus an annex for the hardware department on the right side. Bradlees took over the main part of store once Vornado redid the property. Pathmark probably didn’t arrive until about the mid-80s.

  4. What is most interesting is inside if you can get to the area with the tires in the back the inside of the supermarket walls and floor can be seen pretty clearly. You can even see what may have been some department booths back there, maybe the dairy dept. or something like that

  5. In the book "East Hanover" in Arcadia Publishing’s series "Images of America", a picture of Route 10’s intersection with Mt Pleasant Ave (where the Acme was) is clearly shown. The caption of the photograph states that the picture was taken in the 1960’s. It’s an extremely sharp bird’s eye view picture, taken from an airplane. As soon as I saw this picture, a few things jumped out at me as being strange immediately. They are:
    1.There are only two cars in the parking lot. Okay, maybe Acme was closed that day. But does that explain…
    2. The giant, tall ACME MARKETS sign outside, on Route 10, is intact. However, there is no actual sign on it! There are no letters mounted onto a panel, and there is no panel to mount letters on. The frame is clearly there, but no sign.
    3. Even stranger, there is no sign on the building itself. The awning on the building currently is intact (that is to say, the awning on the current building is original and was intact at the time of this picture). There is no script "Acme Markets" running across the top (which should be there, since this store was built with the 1950s flat-roof style). There is no frame to put a fish-eye logo (as there is at the abandoned Woodstown, NJ store).
    4. The windows along the front seem to be boarded up! This photograph is extremely clear and sharp, and I’m almost 100% certain the windows are boarded up.
    I’ve come up with a few possibilities as to what happened. Maybe one of them is true, maybe it’s something else entirely. They are:
    This store closed earlier than is believed. It had closed by the time the picture was taken in the 60’s (and either sat empty or had another tenant until Gogel, the current tenant, opened in the late 80’s, I believe).
    This store was simply closed for the day. I am just missing the signs. (This is highly improbable as the picture is very clear — have I mentioned that yet? — and I’ve studied it carefully with a magnifying glass!). The windows aren’t really boarded up; they just look like it because of shadows or something.
    This is the one I think is most probable: they simply got the date wrong in the book. The picture was actually taken in the 70s or 80s, once the Acme had closed.
    This is the one I think is least probable but most interesting: the Acme was temporarily closed for renovations. Acme was updating the store by removing the script logo and was replacing it with the fish-eye logo; the same was happening on the street sign. The windows are boarded up because the interior is getting a renovation as well. Unlikely? Yes. An interesting possibility? Yes. (In the 1960s, while this Acme doesn’t seem to be overly successful — based on historic aerial photos — but it does appear to be successful enough to have a renovation done.)
    This store has not yet opened for business. By "1960’s", they mean before the store opened in January of 1960.

  6. Continued from previous comment: Here's some other interesting information about the store.
    —The giant sign was not at the corner of Route 10 and New Murray Road. It was set back more (right on Route 10 but not at the corner).
    — The Gogel sign there today is NOT original. Old, maybe, but not original. The original sign had rather than two parallel posts, one vertical and one diagonal (the diagonal one being farther from the street).
    —The original entrance and exit are under the Goodyear sign on the building’s right side. Entrance would logically be closer to Route 10; exit farther.
    — The side facing Route 10 was the original delivery area. That would mean that when customers entered, they would have to make an immediate right turn because the back room space would have to be by the delivery area, unless it was in a basement.
    —Right in front of the current Far Fetched Imports sign, on Route 10, there was another Acme sign. It appears to have the design seen used on the logo here: but with a slightly simplified outside shape (a rectangle with a flat triangle sticking out from top and bottom). In the photograph, you can’t read the text on the sign if there is any but it’s clearly on the Acme property.
    —There are no light posts in the parking lot. They are instead around the perimeter, along Mt Pleasant Ave, Route 10, and New Murray Road (yet facing into the lot).

    1. I'll need to get my hands on a copy of that book!

    2. Another thing I forgot to mention above (I didn't use a name because I didn't know you could) is that the Two Guys parking lot (or at least, as much of it as you can see), is empty. I'm not sure why that would be. My first thought was that the photograph was taken on a Sunday, when Blue Laws were in effect. But first, supermarkets are excepted from Blue Laws, and second, that still doesn't explain why no signs are visible on the building.

      The Images of America series, across the books, has some great pictures of old supermarkets. (See my comments on Jersey City and Ocean City.)

  7. Just a couple of comments:

    1) Gogel has been in that space since at least the late ‘70s. I went to high school across the street and my dad used to get our cars serviced there. I don’t believe that there was anyone else in the building before Phil Gogel moved from his original location down Route 10 though Wilner’s Liquors outlasted the Acme.

    2) Even if it were a Sunday, that wouldn’t explain the empty Two Guys parking lot. Despite the Blue Laws, Two Guys was open on Sundays but they would cordon off those departments (e.g., clothing and appliances) for which Sunday sales were prohibited.

    Other possible explanations for the empty parking lots: 1) it was a holiday when both were closed, 2) it was early on a Sunday before either store was open, or 3) it was before the Acme opened (hence the lack of signage), the Two Guys parking lot was vast and it sounds like the photo didn’t capture parking nearer to the building.