Friday, July 30, 2010

Jersey Shore Acme – Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City pictures courtesy of Rob Ascough

The Acme in Ocean City, New Jersey, stands as one of the most fascinating pitched-roof conversions in the entire chain. The original store has been on this property for 43 years now. Back in January of 2000, the pitched-roof store was closed and construction for a massive expansion and remodel began. Final size: 33,250 square feet. The nearly-new store held it's grand reopening on June 16, 2000 at 7:00 am.

The brand-new section of the Acme is seen here. All the service departments were moved to the new addition. The pitched-roof half houses most of the grocery aisles and checkouts.

Ocean City is one of the very few pitched-roof conversions were the original building was not disguised with an awning. The conversions that occurred during the 80's remodels erased all evidence that the stores were ever pitched-roves.... with the exception of the back of the store. Princeton Junction, as seen here, is great example of the 80's conversions.

Not only did they not cover up the pitched-roof section, they left the ceiling inside completely intact! No drop ceiling. Granted, the facade of this store is a bit odd now, I do think preserving the original structure in this manner allows this Acme to remain a very unique store. It is nice seeing the old joining the new here.

Let's take a look inside...

Check out the colors! Quite impressive indeed. During the 2000 expansion and remodel, the Alberston's Marketplace decor was put in. Recently the store was upgaded to the Premium Fresh and Healthy look in preparation for the new ShopRite opening in nearby Marmora. You can see the nuts and bolts of the Albertson's Marketplace decor still in place. Department lettering has been switched out and the iron-like sculptures over the blue boxes have been removed. One unfortunate addition... the Albertsons leaf planted up on the walls. I'm not a fan.

A lot of Acmes have been getting this upgrade in the last few years. This location has been one of the most successful upgrades I've seen. Earlier remodels were lacking in color and came across as cold and sterile.

Looking out into the old pitched-roof building.

I believe the Dairy department is still in it's original location. The old entrance and exit would have been straight ahead and behind the original Customer Service Office... if we are to assume this had the layout of most pitched-roof stores.

Correction: The Dairy department is probably not in it's original location! The Meat Department shot above shows doors to the backroom along the current Dairy wall. Doors to the backrooms were along the Produce wall in the old pitched-roof stores. Dariy was always ran along the exterior wall of the building.

Front end of the store from the new into the old.

Nice to see the old pitched-roof store looking so good 43 years later! Too bad there weren't more of them around that have been so well cared for.

Now around to the back of the store...

And up into the air…

I have posted aerial shots of this store before when I first discovered it. Couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the conversion that was done here.

An interesting side note here... I read that the town reconfigured the entrances and exits to the parking lot in preparation of the Acme CLOSING when the new ShopRite opened in mid-2009. Rumors were that Wawa was interested in the location and the town was planning for the changes. Acme answered back by saying they had no plans for closing this store despite the competition coming from a new ShopRite. In fact, they were in the process of remodeling this store with the Premium Fresh and Healthy decor and we're very committed to keeping this location a success.
The Acme is located at 3428 Simpson Avenue, Ocean City, NJ, right at one of the main roads that leads to the Island.

5 blocks in from the water.. for those keeping score.

The other grocery store on the island... SuperFresh! Located about 25 blocks North of the Acme. If I have my stories straight... the original store was town down and this new one was built.

Here's a look at the grocery store situation in Ocean City. The ShopRite is not in Ocean City but must certainly be impacting the stores that are. (The ShopRite is so new, it's not showing up in satelite images of the area.) I'm curious to know how much longer the SuperFresh brand will be around for. Their numbers have dwindled extensively since A&P bought Pathmark. Most SuperFresh stores in the Philly area have been converted to Pathmark Sav-a-centers.


  1. Very nice Ocean City Acme photos. I see the perishable trailer dropped in the produce receiving dock. Take a good look, as of this date, SuperValu is removing ALL Acme markings from their wet and dry trailers. Ah...the end seems to be closer than we thought. (maybe)

  2. Love the aisle directory. I don't see that kind of stuff often up here in NY. Is it a common thing?

  3. Correction is correct. The produce was on the left side, where the dairy is now located. As a matter of fact, the produce was unloaded in the front of the store untill the store was remodeled. That meant blocking the side entrance untill the driver finished the delivery and moved the trailer. This was the last "A" frame store to receive their perishable delivery in such a manner. On most if not all "A" frame stores, in the front there is a set of double doors where the produce was delivered. Clayton, NJ is that way also, there produce was delivered on the right side in the front of the store many years ago but with the age of longer trailers, the deliveries to these small store was done at their grocery docks.

  4. This is a neat Acme. a nice mixture of the old and new.

    as for Supervalu's decision, I hope it's not the beginning of the end, however this does make sense as other stores in the area namely Save a Lot,Redner's and the independent Fresh Grocer and Great Valu stores. and it would be kind of funny to see Acme branded trucks making deliveries at these stores. what they probably will do is put the Supervalu Logo on them, Im thinking that this is in respect to the other Supervalu customers, as Acme's warehouse supplies these stores too. As for A&P
    though it has converted many Superfreshes especially in the city limits of Philly have become Pathmarks (and according to many sources are not doing well) the remaining PA, DE and MD Superfreshes are doing allright and have been given the new A&P "Fresh" look. I was just shopping yesterday at the remodeled SuperFresh on South Street in Philly, and it was buisier than it has ever has been. A&P seems to be using the SF format for upscake areas and Pathmark for blue collar ones. on the flip side It seems as if A&P corporate is examining what it wants to do with the NJ SF's- remodel them to the fresh format? Pathmark them? Turn them into the newest FoodBasics prototype? Closethem (Heaven Forbid! or do some modifications to it. it seems that Montvale is taking its sweet time on this.

  5. Correction: when I had mentioned the Superfresh stores in the Philadelphia area I meant to say OUTSIDE the City Limits. The Superfreshes remaning in the Inner-city all have been upgraded to the New A&P fresh look

  6. Probably my favorite Acme.

    I remember working for the company and hearing about the Ocean City store being drastically expanded and remodeled, although I had no idea the original building was an A-frame. I was pleasantly surprised to later learn this was the case, and that the original structure was preserved as part of what is essentially a new Acme.

    It would have been nice if the addition was built with a pitched roof to match the original but the new addition as is works surprisingly well since it contains most of the departments people expect to find in today's grocery stores while the original part of the building more or less functions as it did for years with grocery aisles and checkout lanes. If this were my local grocery store, I would shop here- not something I can say about most Acme stores I've come across. This one has character.

    I wonder if the new Shoprite has really affected business. As you can see on the map, it's on the other side of the Parkway- not very convenient for Ocean City vacationers unless they are willing to go out of their way to save money. I can see the new Shoprite having more of an effect on the nearby Acme in Seaville/Ocean View, which would be visible to the south of the aerial map were expanded (as I'm sure you'll see when the webmaster features that store in the future.) Don't forget there's also another Acme to the north in Somers Point.

  7. Another A-Frame store that was expanded was at 2633 Easton Ave in Bethlehem, PA. It opened in 1962, but was doubled in size to 28,000 square feet in 1972, with a 7,000 sq. ft. Rea & Derick added on as well (opening the following year). As a result the left half of the store had a regular flat ceiling and the right half was opened up. It closed in February 1999, with CVS taking up most of the peaked half in October of that year. The expansion was divided between Advance Auto and a Chinese Buffet, and the old CVS/ former Rea & Derick became a now-closed Hollywood Video.

  8. A very nice Acme. Been to the SuperFresh there. I like it as well. But the 3 Ocean City MD locations do a great shore business too. I think SF escaped nearly untouched by the latest A&P store closings. More than half of the 25 stores closed are Pathmarks, 5 A&Ps, 3 Waldbaums, and 4 Super Fresh, 2 in MD and 2 in PA.

  9. Do you have a list of the A&P/Pathmark closings? I know of about 14 so far. Trying to find out the other 11.

    SuperFresh already had their closings a while ago. Most Philly SF's were converted to Pathmark Sav-a-centers. Others have been weeded out over the past couple of years. A majority of the current closings have to do with A&P and Pathmark overlapping in the same area.

  10. The Ocean City SuperFresh is built on a former Acme site. The Acme closed around 1980 when the company could not reach a lease renewal agreement with the landlord (Howard Stainton, who owned a department store a block away). The Acme building was renovated into a Pontiac-Cadillac dealership. After the car dealer closed A&P acquired the site, demolished the ex-Acme and built a new store to replace a '60s Centennial they had near 16th and Haven.

  11. I always wondered if that was the location of Ocean City's other Acme. Too bad they couldn't hold onto the lease, then the company would have had the area covered with this store and the one in Somers Point. Do you remember what kind of store the other Acme was?

  12. I think the 8th Street store went back to the tile-front era; not sure if it had a tower or not. The building came up to the sidewalk on West Avenue. I seem to recall that there was something unusual about the store entrance--maybe a sort of canopy over the parcel pick-up area?--but I could be misremembering. My family's house was much closer to 34th Street and I don't remember being inside the uptown store, only passing by.

  13. The rumor that Wawa will come to this site has resurfaced in Ocean City, with the added twist that SuperFresh will close and Acme will move to the 8th & West location. That's rumor, not fact, but it could make sense; Wawa has a store in the next block that has all the business it can handle in the summer and no room to expand, while the 8th Street location is closer to the center of OC's year-round population and farther from ShopRite.

  14. 1:this is by far the most interesting ACME I have ever seen.
    2: In school today, my teacher started talking about how amazing it is that this store is still so original ( we also discussed Cape may and Sea Isle stores)
    3: Also in school today, we had to photoshop a picture for computer class. I chose a picture of the sea Isle store (adding james brown, cookie monster, and a green awning)
    4: what do you say when someone catches you taking pictures of a store? I doubt they see supermarket fans that often.

    1. I've never been caught taking pictures! Not once.

  15. The "Images of America" book on Ocean City (volume 1, I believe) has two great pictures of the original Ocean City Acme, which appears to be in a downtown area. I'm not familiar with Ocean City, so I don't know where it was and the address is not listed. There's one picture of the outside (when it was still called American Stores), and one of the inside (at the same time). It's very interesting to see!

  16. I guess the answer to your question in the final comment of the post is about 5 years, 4 months (give or take a week) :)