Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Abandoned Acme! Princeton Junction, NJ

After much delay... my pictures from the Princeton Junction store are finally here! This store closed on May 7, 2009 after being in business for 39 years. Updates to Acme Style have been a little slow in coming lately but I hope this one was worth the wait...
The red oval logo is a bit of a mystery at this location. The interior received a significant upgrade sometime in the early 2000's yet the the sign was not replaced. Many Acme's received new signage in the late 90's without having interior upgrades. This store's distinctive 80's exterior remained until it's very last day.

I went to Princeton Junction at the end of May to get my pictures. Had heard the store was cleared out and ready to be photographed. But when I took my first interior shot I saw that there were several people inside still cleaning up. I wasn't sure about the reaction I would have gotten to taking pics so I split.

Returned two weekends ago. All signs now painted over, the store officially cleared out. Acme's lease was up as of May 31, 2009. They decided not to renew due to growing competition from newer stores in the area. Acme's lease was ending at a time when the township was interested in redeveloping this shopping center which is very much showing it's age. Various plans of been drawn up from minor facade improvements to complete reconstruction of the property. As far as I know, no final plans have been decided upon. Rumors abound that King's will be moving into Acme's old space. I didn't see any "For Lease" signs on the property so perhaps it's fate has been decided.

This store started out as a pithced-roof Acme. More evidence to come. The front windows appear to be original. This store went through a massive transformation during the 80's remodel. Would have loved to have been able to see it go from a pithced-roof style to the classic 80's format.

The distinctive stripes seen on many 80's styled stores.

The entrance and exit was moved to this end during the 80's remodel.

From the outside this emergency exit looks as though it may have been the original Entrance/Exit from the store's pithced-roof days. But when you look inside you can see that this exit does not line up with the end of the pitched-roof section.

Not sure where this door lead to. Frozen food cases lined this section of the store as I remember. The Bakery may have been moved away from the corner during the 2000's remodel.

Heading around the side...

And now to that back of the store where the original pitched-roof section can be clearly seen.

This loading dock section was probably added during the 80's expansion and remodel.

Can anyone explain the beam that is sticking out at the top? I have seen this on other pitched-roof stores and don't know what it's purpose could have been.

UPDATE 7.9.09: I received alot of emails regarding my question about the beam. Turns out the beam was built into the frame work of most of the pitched-roof stores and was used with a hoist to lift the compressors into the refrigeration and compressor room. Another Acme Style reader wrote in and said the beam was used to transfer meat from the delivery truck to the store without having anyone lift it. This was back in the day when nearly the entire cow would be delivered to the store for final butchering.

The back area was very swampy. Looks like these doors were no longer used after the expansion.

Dairy and Frozen receiving.

Interior decor package: Looks as though this store was remodeled in the early 2000's. I believe this look was rolled out in older stores after Albertson's bought Acme from American Stores. This look came after the "Chalkboard Market" decor that was used in both old and new Acmes in the late 90's. I am working on a post that will present all of the major decor packages from the 70's to the present. Haven't come up with a name for this decor package.
Unfortunately the department signs have been taken down. You can see where the Produce sign was on the far wall... where the break in the line is.

Take a close look over by Customer Service... there are rements of the blue checkerboard floor tiles used in the 80's remodel.

Another close look reveals the 80's checkerboard floor up and down the aisles. This area was not retiled during the 2000's remodel. There was an odd raised black border that lined these old tiles all the way around the store. Guess it was a way to disguise the seem between the old and the new.

The tiled wall area was the Deli and Seafood section.

Seattle's Best Coffee once a Starbucks in the lower part of the picture. There was still a Starbucks sign in the store leading customers to Seattle's Best (which is owned by Starbucks).

Here you can see where the pitched-roof section ended and the addition begins. The square support beams are where the exterior wall once stood. The low drop ceiling section was common to the entrance/exit side of pitched-rood stores.

Now entering the addition that was made to the store.

Close-up of the wall graphics left behind.

The back wall was the Dairy section. Looks like there may have been a bit of mold problem.

Another close-up of a wall graphic.

The Bakery to the left. You can see the curved wall the upper left-hand corner. A very common feature in 80's styled Acmes especially in the Bakery Department.

Now exiting the Princeton Junction Acme.



Found a $20 bill in the parking lot when I was taking these pictures. Covered gas and lunch for the trip.

Sorry to see you go Acme. This location is a dying breed. One of the only ones left that had not had the exterior completly redone. I was here only once when the store was still open and was very impressed with how clean and nice the interior was. Wish Acme didn't let this one go...
Finishing up with an areal shot of course. You can see the pithced-roof section if you look closely, especially the dip right before the addition.


  1. I think I might know the reason behind the Red Oval Sign and this is just speculation from having lived in this Area for 23 Years. I think that sign was and exterior was grandfathered in. If they changed the sign and exterior they would have to meet West Windsor's new code which is much stricter and may have been very expensive for Acme to do. It was probably too much money to spend on something that does not really impact a customers shopping experiance. Princeton Junction is a section of West Windsor Township. WW has become a very high-end elite town over the past 25 years with average home prices well over $600,000. Over the years the town has put strict restrictions on Signage and exterior of retailers, mainly chain retailers. For Example Both Lowes and Wal-Mart that both sport an eye-popping Blue and Grey interior in most places. The Lowes and WalMart in West Windsor on Route 1 are both brick front buildings with a simple white sign. Same goes for the Best Buy which usually has a Blue Exterior that has an odd arrow type pitch, in WW it is a standard brick building. All road signage now sits at ground level, so if Acme was to change the road sign that stood about 10 feet in the air it would have been replaced with a ground level sign.

  2. Hate to see it go. I worked there for 5 years as a kid. So long ACME. Good memories....

  3. I wish somebody could dig up some pics of that place from the 70s, when it was a store all by itself (no strip mall).

  4. we shopped there for years when we lived on hendrickson drive. all shut down it looks like the closed up acme here in egg harbor city. always sad when a major store in a small town is shut down. it hurts more folks than one realizes.

  5. The Egg Harbor City store has already been featured on this site. Here's a link...

  6. As a relocated employee I just wanted to say that there were alot of happy years at that store. We were a family not only with each other but with the customers as well. We grew up together, shared weddings, divorces, babies and even deaths. I would not trade those years for anything. They will be in my memories for as long as I can hold on to them. Love you PJ friends and miss you terribly.

  7. I live right behind the Quakertown Acme and damn it was a nice place. It sucked to see it get closed down. It was bought out by the Walmart next door. They sais they would turn it into a 'Super Walmart' by 2009, but that has not happened yet.

  8. it was a good store that I grew up going to and spent my high school years hanging out in front of. I cant express how many times my friends and I went there to get a 25 cent soda from the machine out front up until it closed. and those were still the best sodas I've ever paid for (partially because they were so cheap!). and as much as I miss that store I think that it should be said that the store did have issues that were very apparent as a customer and from conversations with some employees. I wont go into specifics but it was because of these issues that unfortunately, this store simply could not compete with other stores in the town or in the neighboring towns.

  9. I have some pictures of an old 60s acme that was located in Canton NY.It has been turned into a hardware store and exists to this day.If you look at the store it really looks the same.If someone here can email me back at I will email them the pics.I remember going to this store when I was a kid-Im 44 now-thank you

  10. Teri (Shuke)McDowellJuly 19, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    I lived down the road from the Acme and shopped there 70s-90s with my Mom. As a teen I found $20 in the parking lot too. Bought pizza at Aljohns. Thanks for this. It makes me sad. I used to see John Nash walking to and from Acme all the time. He lived right behind it. Spent countless hours sitting in front of this place as a teen. I hate change!!

  11. I heard that there is some activity going on around this store. I had heard that they are gutting the interior. Maybe they will take down the facade and expose the pitched roof?

  12. According to historic aerials, the addition came sometime in the 70s.

  13. Thanks for checking on that Andrew! I will get this posted updated with the historic aerials soon.

  14. teri shuke mcdowellNovember 6, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    yeah any chance of putting up some of the original Acme here in PJ? The one we all grew up with prior to the "new" one. I remember it so well. So sad to see it go. Spent every day there as a youth.

  15. My grandparents lived across the street from this Acme (Sherbrook drive). I remember many times walking up the street with my grandma to get grocerys. There was a hardware store on the end of this shopping center where they would buy me Matchbox cars out of the display case.

  16. Okay, I Started To Crack Up When You Said:
    "Found a $20 bill in the parking lot when I was taking these pictures. Covered gas and lunch for the trip. "

    What A Coincidence!

  17. I lived in Princeton Junction from 88-93 when I was a child. I remember that area well. Acme is where we shopped a lot. The gas station on the corner. Lickit the ice cream "shack" if you will, was a fun place, now closed. Aljon's pizza is still my favorite. Sad to see Acme's closed. Interesting blog you have!!!

  18. So glad to have stumbled upon this! Lots of great details and insight, I recently wrote an ode to this old Acme as well:

    I was looking for a photo to accompany my blog, and was wondering if I could feature one of yours (with all due credit, of course). Let me know, thanks again!

    1. Sure thing! Help yourself to whatever photos you would like.