Friday, April 18, 2014

Acme — Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Location: 785 Starr Street, Phoenixville, PA

Snow is still in the forecast at Acme Style! I have a few more stores to get posted from this past winter. Kind of appropriate this week since the temperature plunged in New Jersey and we did get some more snow. Over the next few Fridays, I will be focusing on getting this batch of stores up on the blog. Most happen to be Pennsylvania locations so we'll be on a short break from the New Jersey store coverage. My goal, as of now, is to have all open New Jersey stores represented on the blog by summer's end.

So when it comes to the Phoenixville Acme, I find myself with just one word to describe it… confusing. Not in a bad way. In fact, it is one of the more fascinating stores that I have covered for the blog. Had I not known better, I would have sworn Acme took over this building from another chain. Even the facade is more Grand Union-like than Acme...

Photo courtesy of gustores4ver

My knowledge Phoenixville's history is pretty dicey. A 50's model existed on this same property, closer to the road, until at least 1971. Exactly when this replacement was built is my question. It's nearly impossible to figure that out from the interior. The configuration of the Bakery, Produce and Deli & Seafood is not typical to any era of Acme stores.

Heading in here through the right side entrance. The Bakery is surprisingly the first department inside the entrance...

Update 5.1.14: Just came across this picture and realized it wasn't included in the post. Interesting font for the "Welcome to…" This is the entrance on the left side. We'll now get back to the original post where we're heading in the right side...

Check out that floor! A bright, bold, virtually flawless version of the 80's Checkerboard floor remains in a majority of the store. The checkerboard pattern is on an angle here rather than running parallel to the exterior walls of the building. That slight change makes the floor so much more visually interesting than the standard pattern in the majority of 80's stores and remodels.

The condition of the floor is pretty remarkable. You'll see that some tiles have been swapped out around the store and don't quite match the original color schemes...

Let's discuss this Bakery for a moment. Does anyone know of another Acme where the Bakery is the very first department? I've certainly never seen one. This is technically the start of the store. The Pharmacy is at the opposite corner. We'll be seeing some other odd layout situations here as well.  The decor is a basic version of the Industrial Circus package. The department signs are flat against the wall with no spot lights shining on them. The walls throughout the store have minimal decor elements.

A look at the Bakery tiles joining up with the grocery aisles. A couple of mismatched tiles on the left.

Tiles shift to bluish-green as we move on to Produce. You can see in the lower-left hand corner that some areas of the 80's floor were switched out for the Industrial Circus flooring.

Aisle 1 is half deals and half Wild Harvest, with Meat to the rear. Produce is in an alcove off to the right with all new flooring. Notice how the checkerboard floor looks more interesting here than in the former Sharon Hill store, for example…

This alcove may have been a result of an expansion of the store.

I'm always surprised to see this old Wild Harvest signage. Not sure why they haven't swapped it out in all stores, especially with many of Acme's competitors placing more emphasis on their health food departments. The new signage matches the current packaging for the Wild Harvest products. You can see an example of the sign at the abandoned Cinnaminson store. But then again… Wild Harvest may be on its way out in favor of Safeway's O Organics brand. There have numerous articles online discussing the cost cutting measures Safeway will take once it starts running Alberstsons. Ditching SuperValu's brands would seem like a logical step.

Fake corrugated steel. Click here for the real thing.

Can't get enough of this floor. It actually pairs up nicely with the Industrial Circus decor. And look at that shine!

Check out the lighting! It's the exposed fluorescent tubes rather than the recessed lighting seen in 80's and 90's stores. This type of lighting was phased out of new Acmes way back in the 70's!  Could this in fact be a former 33M store? It's impossible to tell from the historic aerials since we see the 50's model in 1971 and the current store in the next available view from 2002. There are just too many odd situations here to sketch out the exact history of this place.

Over to aisle 2 now with an extension of the Wild Harvest department reaching into "Shop the World". Again, notice how the checkerboard pattern here. I believe this was done in very late 80's stores. The very last ones just before the newer Red/White/Blue package was used in new stores.

There appears to be second floor offices above the Meat Department. You can see the mirrored windows along the ceiling.

Some of the pictures from here on out get a little blurry. This was one of my first stop on a 17 store day so I was moving pretty quickly through the place.

The store is screaming "expanded 33M model" in this shot. The drop ceiling extending out over the Deli and Seafood is another odd aspect of this store.

Bad picture of the frozen food. Including it to show the Industrical Circus category signs hanging from the ceiling. Other aisles have been upgraded to the Premium Fresh and Healthy signs...

No markers in this aisle here but notice how beautifully the shelves are stocked! Yes Acme shoppers, Supervalu HAS left the building.

Dairy extends into an alcove in the back corner. This is due to the the Wine And Spirts running along the left wall of the store.

Dairy doesn't have the usual light blue tiles.

Regardless of all the mixing of decor packages, this is still a very attractive store.

More Industrial Circus flooring can be seen in this corner of the store.

This was my first time in an Acme that sold liquor.

Hopefully someone can confirm the history here. I'm putting my money on a 1970's 33M store being expanded and completely renovated in the late 80's. The historic aerials down below offer no confirmation on this.

Aerial Views...

Additional stores added in recent years, seen here still under construction. Acme's parking lot no longer has angled spots. All construction is now complete and the stores are open.

This just adds to my confusion… there are NO clues on the roof of any kind of expansion. From these aerial shots, it looks like it could be a freshly built, late 80's store.

No clues in the back either. The brick all looks exactly the same. From this distance, there's no indication of a new and old section. I didn't drive around back for a closer look.

Historic Aerials...

Store construction and parking lot complete in 2008.

Here you can see the spot where the original store was located. Not sure why all of those trailers are sitting there. Strange that the lot of the former store was left such a mess.

Jumping decades back to 1971, we see the original 50's store. I have a feeling we're missing some interesting history during those years. A few small stores appear were added to the left side of the building.



Acme stands alone in 1957. The store opened in December 1955.


Ok Phoenixville Acme fans… what can you tell us about this place?

Update: An article at has this store opening on May 18, 1988! "Acme Chain Has 1st New Pa. Store In A Decade" So it was one of the first new 80's stores. Not among the last as I speculated. Strange though that they went back to the florescent tube lighting for a new store. Also puts the angled checkerboard flooring at an early date than I thought. Perhaps they decided to so this just for new stores and not the remodels. Link to the article about the store's opening is below...


  1. This store opened May 18, 1988, according to this article:

    1. Well that blows a couple of my theories out of the water. Thanks for the link!

  2. I believe that this store started out as a Colonial Cottage style store, probably opening around '71. I imagine that since the parking lot was such a mess in the 2002 aerial, the original store was left standing for a while, possibly as something else.

  3. Technically, the Acme isn't selling liquor. That's a state-owned PA Wine and Spirits Shoppe (that's how they spell it) attached.

  4. The old store was used for storage and other things and really rotted away until it was demolished. Had to be sometime in the mid to late 1990's. Also by looking at the above pictures, the company did a pretty inferior remodel job considering the signage and the old floor tiles. It appears that it was a very minor remodel cost wise. If you look closely even some of the refrigeration stayed and was just cleaned up and painted over. That store was a real gem when it opened. Not sure if sales dropped off so much that the company did not go out and really spend the money.

  5. Hi the store when renovated in the late 80!s was ahigh volum e store. With all the competition that has opened up in the area since then the store does about half of what it did in its heyday./ wHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT SAFEWAYS MANAGEMENT IS GOING TO RUN ACME? That is just assumption. There is going to be cross over stores In areas like California that would not surprise me. But Acme is doing just fine these days and Safeway is the one who is in trouble and is the company that is in need of doing things in a new way. These guys did not spend that money to let Safeway bankrupt them

  6. Can you tell us more about the increased competition that Acme in Phoenixville is facing? Shop-Rite, Walmart, Aldi??? How far away are those stores? Does this Acme still do decent business?

    1. Giant and Redners are on the other side of town. Not sure about other competition in the area.

  7. Wegmans' Collegeville store (it's actually in Upper Providence Twp. near Routes 29 & 422) is about a 15 min. drive north from the Phoenixville Acme. As for the Redner's in Phoenixville, I believe that it was formerly a Super Fresh for some years. The shopping center it's in was once also home to an Ames, that had been in turn converted from a Jamesway.

    1. The Super Fresh was in a smaller location in the shopping center; it's now French Creek Outfitters. The spot where Redner's now is was the Jamesway/ Ames.

    2. Thanks JoshAustin 610. I wa thinking that about that Super Fresh also but wasn't sure!

  8. The Rockaway, NJ Acme had a similar bakery location, front right from the entrance.

    1. Well not originally. It was moved to that area after a remodel. I was referring to the newly built stores of the late 80's and 90's where the bakeries were located past the produce department. This is the *new* store of those eras that had the bakery first, as far as I know.

    2. There was an A&P food store next-door to Kelly Chevrolet on Nutt rd Phoenix ville,PA it was turned down In the early 1990s for its expanded. Car lot

  9. Albertsons is buying Safeway, not the other way around. If you want to get technical, since 2013, the two Albertsons companies, New Albertsons Inc. (the SuperValu-owned portion), and Albertsons LLC (the Cerberus owned portion) have been owned by AB Acquisition LLC, which bought Albertsons LLC back in 2006 (the "poorer performance" Albertsons divisions).

    Either way, Safeway definitely won't be running the show, though with the Albertsons store brands decimated in the years following the breakup, it's likely that they'll take at least some of the Safeway store brands.

  10. Comment submitted from ACME-Guy:

    I remember going to this store to "check it out" as a teenage ACME employee. It was amazing! It had all the "new" things that many ACME's didn't have yet. Pharmacy, Salad bar, etc. It even had a music section that sold cassette tapes! There was a basic 2002 remodel, and the liquor store was added in 2008 with an even lesser remodel. That brought the Pharmacy from the left rear corner of the store to the front left.

  11. This store is all the way on the other side of town miles away from Redners and Giant. With Phoenixville adding all of the downtown luxury housing, there is ample opportunity for this store to increase its sales. I think before this store worries about upgrades, it needs to focus on customer service. This store offers up some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. The front end managers are horrific. You never see an employee at this store greeting anyone or even thanking them for their business.