Sunday, March 1, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new... Clifton, NJ

Location: 1006 Route 46 West, Clifton NJ

This was the former location of the Acme on Rt. 46 in Clifton NJ. Opened sometime in the 60's or 70's. I would guess that Acme signed onto this location after plans for this shopping center were already developed. The store was lacking many of the physical characteristics common of Acmes of that era. Most unusual was that the dairy department ran across the back of the store. The Meat Department and Corner Deli were along the far right wall.

UPDATE 7.14.09: When this store first opened the aisles ran parallel to the front of the store. With this set up the Dairy, Meat and Deli departments were in there usual areas. The aisles were switched years later when the neighboring store left and the entrance to the Acme was reconfigured.

This store did have the red oval logo... right where the Big Lots logo is. However, it was passed over during the 80's remodel. The sign was probably changed due to the shopping center upgrading the facade. This Acme had it's 70's colonial decor until the late 90's when the walls were painted white and the blue and beige wall graphics were put up. You can see this "look" in the posts of the Newton and Belmar stores. I believe the floor tiles in the Meat and Deli department were replaced with white. The slate tile look of the Produce Department remained until the end.

UPDATE 2.10.10: Pictures of the Clifton store when it was still an Acme! Pictures taken by Rob Ascough back in 1998...

Images above courtesy of Rob Ascough

The entrance was set up similiarly to other Acmes of this era. I believe the store had 10 aisles. It closed around 2004 or 2005 as it's replacement store was ready for it's Grand Opening!

UPDATE 7.14.09: The old Clifton Acme opened in 1959 and closed on February 2, 2004. The new Clifton Acme opened the next day on February 3, 2004.

And here it is...

Location: 467 Allwood Road, Clifton NJ

The brand new Clifton Acme on Allwood Road just off of Rt. 3.

This location had a Starbucks when it opened. That round sign used to have the Starbucks logo. I believe it's some other coffee shop now. Not sure why Starbucks left Acmes... will have to research that topic for a later post.

This store has competition from two nearby Stop and Shops. The S&S to the West is currently being torn down and replaced with a Super Stop and Shop. It appears that Acme is benefiting from the temporary closure of that S&S. The parking lot always seems to be full these days.

An interesting aspect of this Acme is that it was customized for the community. Apparently Clifton has a large Jewish population and this store was set up clearly marked Kosher section. There is even a regular Deli and a Kosher Deli. I have seen reviews online that rave about the Kosher selections in this store.

This sign is right off of Rt. 3.

I have been passing this are on Rt. 3 regularly for years. I never saw this store being constructed... it just seemed to appear out of no where one day. Must have been a challenge to build in this tight space.


  1. Dude...this store is ALWAYS empty...and while it's a pretty nice store...the prices are ridiculous!! I don't understand how they stay in business. You go in there on a Saturday morning and there are 3 registers open and like 3 customers. If you go into ShopRite at the same time, there are like 14 registers open and humming along...LOL

  2. When I worked for Acme, this store had been in the planning stages for what seemed like an eternity. Up until they broke ground, no one was exactly sure where the store was going to be built because there were no obvious available lots in the area. I think some old warehouses had to be demolished to make room for the store, which is well-hidden behind a busy strip mall at a busy Route 3 intersection.

  3. The closed store in marlboro had a similar kosher setup.

  4. A lot of people were upset when the old Acme closed down. They did a lot of business with the people living in the surrounding area and once it closed the closest stores were the Pathmark/A&P/ShopRite cluster in Little Falls and West Paterson and the Stop & Shop on Broad Street where I work. We picked up a lot of their business.

    Believe it or not, the red oval sign stayed up until the store closed! Hell, it even hung on for a little while afterward (the sign had a support on the back which they were too lazy to take down with the original sign). Amazingly, there was never a signpost for this Acme in the parking lot or attached to the store. The only signage in the parking lot was for the Channel/Rickel store that was next door, which was later replaced with a Drug Fair/Dollar Tree sign and now has Big Lots, a blank space, and a sign for a recently opened bagel shop (formerly a Quiznos that bit the dust because a) either the store never did good business, or b) they were shut down by the health department; by comparison the Quiznos in the Botany section of town, a much less nice section of Clifton, is pristine. Go figure.

  5. When the new Clifton store was being built, there was talk that Acme might keep the old location open. It would have made sense because the two Clifton stores aren't close to each other, especially when you factor in traffic on Routes 3 & 46 and how long it takes to drive from one end of Clifton to the other, especially around rush hour. Obviously the old Clifton Acme didn't survive and was closed the day before the new one opened.

  6. True, Rob- it took some effort to get from where Big Lots is to where the new Acme is. If you avoided the highway, the old Allwood Circle would've got you.

    Was over there tonight- still can't believe this store is open. They really must do a killing during the weekend, I tell ya. BTW, the store layout is so backwards it ain't funny.

  7. The old Clifton store wasn't great (it had the colonial decor until the convenience store look came along) but I think it's sales were decent for a neglected Acme. If you factor in what Acme spent building the new Clifton store, I'm sure the old one was a lot more profitable. The two could have coexisted and considering that Route 3 in Clifton has two new Stop N Shops, it wouldn't surprise me if the old Acme would be doing better than the new one if both were open today.

    The parking lot always seems full, but I think that's because the Styertowne shopping center (immediately in front of the Acme) has stores in the front and back, and the Acme parking lot is shared with those back stores on the basement level, which includes an Italian restaurant and Dunkin Donuts. I hear the Acme doesn't do well at all, and that's probably why the pharmacy is gone.

  8. And how I remembered the one on 46 before turning into Big Lots! As former Cliftonian I shopped there many times! Last time I shopped there was on summer vacation 2003! Can't wait to delve into the one on Allwood Road on my next vacay or even when I move there!

  9. Lemme tell ya, you wouldn't recognize this strip now. They completely overhauled the facade and tore down the bank that was adjacent to the main building. Another food store is in the strip now, two doors down from Big Lots (Compare Foods). Don't know how they do.

    They finally added two new signposts and tore down the original one so you at least know some of what's in there before you go in and don't have to look from the highway or the street.

  10. The ACME was at the Van Houten Avenue location from at least the 1950s. I remember that Terrytoon Circus host Claude Kirschner was to meet there for the kids around 1959. My mom spotted him in the parking lot but we had to leave by the time he arrived so I never got a chance to meet him face to face.

  11. I remember going to the original acme on 46 as kid back in the 90's with my grandpa. I never went to the new location on allwood road but from what my mom told me she went in there once and said the prices were just to high. And since both pathmark's in Clifton closed last month I think there are only two major food store chains left in town stop and shop and shop rite on the Clifton/Passaic boarder. I know there are other smaller food stores in town I just hope someone takes over both former pathmark building's will have to wait an see