Friday, March 27, 2015

Former Acme – Fallston, Maryland

Photos courtesy of Will aka glamorous indierockandroll on flickr

Location: 2315 Bel Air Road, Fallston, MD 

Acme closed here in February 2011. Independent grocer Harvest Fare opened in the space shortly thereafter. I had wondered what the new owner had done with the interior. Articles about the Harvest Fare moving in did mention renovations were planned for the store. To view the store while it was still an awesome Acme, please click here.

A few weeks ago, Will sent in a couple of interior photos. He pointed out that an ACE Hardware department had set up shop right in the grocery aisles. The company is currently pursuing the store-with-in-a-store concept to grow sales. You can read more about that by clicking here.

Will also mentioned how he noticed some Safeway decor elements around the interior. While looking at the first couple of photos he had sent in, I realized the WHOLE store is done in Safeway's decor! Found that to be very strange as did Will. I believe the decor here is what Safeway was using prior to its "lifestyle" concept. You can see a sampling of that decor package at the former Norristown Safeway by clicking here (scroll down past the former Acme/Big Lots).

Let's head inside an enjoy Will's outstanding tour of the store...

The checkerboard floor is still there! You can see the ACE Hardware department takes up about 2 1/2 aisles. ACE's aisle markers are side mounted rather than hanging from the ceiling. Notice Safeway decor on the walls including the word "FRESH".

A look down the Produce aisle....

As I've mentioned in past posts of 33M stores, produce cases ran along the produce aisle right where you see the beige and blue tiles meet. The Produce department used to be very secluded from the rest of the store. Those cases and the shelving from the one side of aisle one were removed in the 90's to open up the departments.

It's hard to tell from the photos but it looks like some new cases have been put in while others are fixed up cases leftover from the 80's remodel.

I think the Safeway decor looks pretty good in here and actually works well with the checkerboard floor.

The tiled back wall is left over from Acme.

The back end of the ACE Hardware aisles.

Center aisle in the ACE aisles.

Nice wide shot of the interior! Safeway aisle markers hanging from the ceiling.

SuperValu is Harvest Fare's supplier. I remember reading about that as the grocer was preparing to take over the building. A similar situation happened at the former Acme in Jersey City. A win-win for  SuperValu. They got to loose the hassle of owning the stores but kept their products on the shelves. You can see the redesigned Wild Harvest logo on the display there. SuperValu recently relaunched the line of health food.

Freezers along the back of the store.

The installation of new frozen food cases at some point cost the Frozen Food aisle some of it's blue tiles.

These stainless steal panels along the tops of the cases are a nice touch, I have to say. I think overall the store looks really great.

Close-up a the Safeway aisle marker.

They're still using Acme's carts!

So the million dollar question is... how did an old Safeway decor package wind up in this place? I certainly don't have the answer. Would make more sense to see some form of SuperValu decor in here.

This is a beautiful site! An original Acme cart coral gate.

The side of the store with the ACE Hardware sign being where Acme's sign used to be...

Around back...

Now for a look around the rest of the shopping center which is in a sad state of disrepair...

A CVS was located right next to the Acme.

Abandoned now. The CVS has relocated.

Former Acme parking lot sign...

The same sign in the Acme days...

Have to wonder about the after of Harvest Fare with the rest of the center dying a pretty miserable death.

But wait, there's more! 
(See next post for more Harvest Fare fare)


  1. The outside used to look good, but now it looks like it could use a repaint.

  2. This Acme closed around the same time as the Cherry Hill, NJ Genuardi's, which unlike its sister store in nearby Marlton, had the Safeway decor seen in these pictures. I suspect all the Harvest Fare decor was taken from that Cherry Hill store (a former Food Fair/Pantry Pride).

    Also, the CVS that moved is also a former Revco. Many older CVS stores on the East Coast (but south of New England where CVS started) started as either Revco or Peoples Drug.

    Speaking of Ace Hardware, the former Acme in Rising Sun, MD (just south of the PA border) now is an Ace. The Acme survived the opening of a Martin's (Giant) in Rising Sun in the early 90's, but closed a number of years before the Martin's relocated.

    The Safeway in Perry Hall (close by to Fallston) is kind of an anomaly. It has the Safeway lifestyle decor inside, but still has the 90's Safeway logo on the outside. I also have seen Genuardi's carts there.

    1. Just to note - there are also CVS that were Revco here in NY - in fact, one of the (few) still in a shopping plaza was a Revco and even before that Brooks!

  3. It's a shame that about twelve years ago, that this was still a somewhat healthy shopping center. What really hurt, i feel, was the lack of maintenance to the center. They have torn off some of the awnings most likely do to safety. The parking lot has potholes that really can swallow your car and the parking lot lights have not worked for a while. Just recently, they have put out portable generator lights.
    I was trying to find out more about the "Fallston Mall" shopping center and found out it opened in 1979, and from day one had problems. Apparently, there was issues with the sewer system. They planned on sharing the same sewage system with the now gone Fallston General Hospital across the street. There was several lawsuits, that slowed the development. Due to the inadequate drainage, right before the grand opening, the center was flooded with 3 feet of water and damaged the majority of the stores. This center almost was doomed from the beginning. Also, this center was sold two years ago and now there may be changes:

    Back to the Acme, I had no clue that this interior was from Safeway, until you brought it up. It's a nice store and can tell that there is pride in it. It just unfortunately does not do the level of business that the Harvest Fare in Baltimore does. I feel that more people just choose to go to the Walmart up the street instead, which is unfortunate.

  4. Harvest Fare did a nice job with this store. I wish them good luck as a standard grocery store up against Wal-Mart. Hopefully they have strong produce and meats which is something that Wal-Mart just isn't good at and can never seem to get any consistency with.

    A couple of other notes on the décor... The aisle marker and the Express Lane sign appear to be from the Safeway Lifestyle package. I'd be curious if Harvest Fare got everything from a closed Genuardi's since the only Safeway stores that have closed in the Baltimore/DC area had décor packages prior to the Lifestyle format. No Lifestyle remodel has been a good indicator of either impending closure or replacement. Also the register lights are from one of the 1990s Shoppers Food Warehouse interior packages. This would have been when they were owned by Richfood and had a predominantly orange décor package.

  5. I actually like this décor better than Safeway's Lifestyle format. Some of those stores are so dark and dreary.

  6. What's interesting is that the store manager of the Acme was hired on as the store manager of the Harvest Fare when it opened. Not sure if he is still managing it or not. Also not sure how many employees stayed on or who transferred - the closest store would be the one in Elkton (the PA stores are a different local in the union).

    Nice to see HF holding their own despite the Walmart Supercenter down the street. That store had a long delay before it opened - there were issues with the people who owned land that Walmart needed to make the intersection work. I think they were just holding out for more money. The store was originally slated to open as a D1 store and then go supercenter, but since it was so backed up they just built it as a supercenter. Not sure how much business they do. But the Walmart over in Abingdon is preparing to move to Bel Air, despite the objections of the people who live in the area. The state is allowing Walmart access from the main road (924), thereby alleviating problems with traffic entering and exiting from the local road.

    A Harris Teeter was supposed to open diagonally from the HF, but that never happened. The shopping center was never built, I think it's just freestanding buildings. Even the land behind it that was supposed to become sort of RV park is now supposed to become a field house, but I don't even know if that is going to happen.

  7. I've seen old Stop & Shop decor in two different stores near me that were not Stop & Shops at all - an IGA in Oakdale, NY (now closed and replaced by another independent), and a Halal meat market in Selden, NY. Both had the early 2000's "The XXXX Shop" decor. I imagine they probably bought the decor when they were liquidating fixtures from closed or remodeled stores.

  8. For the past month or so, this store has been getting some much needed upgrades. First of all, the exterior is being completely redone and upgraded, along with the rest of the shopping center. There's a first run movie theater that will sell alcohol, being built in the center. The whole place is looking great so far.

    Inside, the store has been given a brand new floor, which sadly removes the checkerboard floor. Really it was needed, since the floor was starting to show it's age. The produce dept got a fake hardwood floor which looks pretty decent, and the rest of the store got a solid off-white tile. Hard to imagine, but the tile has really changed the look of the store. Another major change is the new refrigerator units installed. The new units are black and have glass doors, so they are much more energy efficient. Some of the old cases from Acme were not even working anymore. Time will tell if the freezer units will be replaced. I believe the old Safeway decor will stay on the walls. Doubt that it will be replaced. The last improvement I saw was the replacement of all of the checkouts/conveyor belts. The old units from Acme were worn out.

    The new owners of the shopping center I believe helped out Harvest Fare with the renovations and recently signed a new long term lease. The owners of this center also own the center diagonal across Route 1, where they built McDonalds and CVS(used to be next to Acme). The original plans were to built a Harris Teeter, but since they wouldn't want to hurt Harvest Fare, they are going to build a Tractor Supply instead.