Friday, October 8, 2010

Former Acme – Hallstead, Pennsylvania

An abandoned Big M, which is a former BiLo, which happened to be a former Acme! Certainly one of the smallest pitched-roof stores I've ever seen. It was probably built towards the end of the pitched-roof era in the late 60's to early 70's. Acme left this location in 1994 when 45 of it's 240 stores were sold to Penn Traffic. Most of those stores, if not all, became BiLo's. A few that I had been in back in the 90's had little remodeling done after the stores switched banners. I was in this store once when it was a BiLo. Not sure when Big M took over or how long they lasted here. There is a larger, independent grocery store across the street.

According to the "for rent" sign, the store has 17,000 square feet. The section extending out to the left appears to have been an addition. I received an email with a bunch of information about this store quite a while ago and haven't been able to locate it. The emailer did say the left section was an addition that was added on during the Acme days. It was also mentioned that flooding in the area may have hastened the closing of the Big M. 

Looks to be a standard issue Acme vestibule. Like most pitched-roof stores, it has only one set of doors to pass through when entering. It is unusual for the vestibule to be under the awning.

I believe Big M did a remodel here after BiLo left. It's been so long since I was in this store I'm not entirely sure. Cases and shelving look quite new. Check out the tiled ceiling! It's not exposed to the rafters which pitched-roof stores were famous for. I have another pitched-roof store in the Acme Style vault that has ceiling tiles as well. 

Looks to be about  6 aisles under the pitched-roof section. 3 more under the flat roof section for a total of 9. May have been 10 aisles back in the Acme's days before the Produce aisle was increased to a double-wide.

Although it looks like clean-up is still in full swing, I think the place had been deserted for a while. Hopefully someone familiar with the area can give us more concrete information.

Heading back outside...

Looks as though the addition doubled the size of the store. The left side of the addition contains back room space. The vestibule on the left side there may have been used as a car coral. I believe the only entrance and exit was to the right side. Not a very grand looking pitched-roof store. Looks like it got hit with a shrinking ray.

A very unusual pitched-roof store from the back as well. I wonder how this odd-ball store came to be especially when there was plenty of space to build a regular pitched-roof store like Parkesburg.

Very limited aerial shots online. No up close shots of this area are available. The Big M is the dark-roofed building on the left. Rob's Country Market is all the way on the right side of the image.

Street views were available over on Google Maps. The store looks to be open here. Apartment buildings line the left side of the parking lot.

A strip mall extends to the right of the store.

Perhaps another grocery store will give this location a shot and give Rob's Country Market a run for it's money. But with only 1,200 people living in Hallstead, there may not be much of a need for a second grocery store. 


  1. The Acme on Rt. 11 in Hallstead opened in 1963 (March 20th). It replaced a smaller Acme at 134 Main Street, Hallstead. The older store opened in 1949 (May 24th) and closed in 1963 (March 16th). In 1963 most new stores were of the A-frame design. During the 1960's, the Wilkes-Barre division opened lots of this style store. Many of them were extremely small like Hallstead.

  2. Thanks Bill for the additional information! Interesting to hear this was an early pitched-roof model.

  3. Ah yes, good old store 5547 of Hallstead, Susquehanna County Pa. The rear of this Acme changed when the addition was added. That explains the cinder block extension from the "A" frame on the left that continues to the newer section to the right side in the rear of the store. This was from what I hear a very good store when it was an Acme.
    If you want to see a small Acme "A" frame, I suggest you look at the old Acme in Canton, PA on East Main Street. A real item to see. (if it's still there)

  4. According to the street view on Google Maps, the Canton store is still standing and is still operating as a BiLo. You can see the sign on Google Maps and is listed on BiLo's website.

  5. The old Acme in Watsontown is another example of a small Acme ... probably the smallest one I was ever in ...

  6. Those yellow handtrucks look like acme leftovers

  7. When did you take these photos? Reason I ask is because I visited that area in early July and the signage had been removed from the building. Funny thing about this store is, while I remember it so well as a kid sitting in the back seat of the car traveling to Upstate NY from NE Pa. from the late 60's throughout the 70's, I never set foot in it until sometime in early 2001 and was she ever a beauty. So well kept and so well maintained. Just an absolute gem. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it was STILL a Bi-Lo during the flood in '06 because I remember reading an article in one of the local papers about how they set up a makeshift store under tents in the parking lot. I found a photo online of what appears to be that store with the Bi-Lo signage that appears to have been taken after the flood although I can't be certain of that. It was taken either when it was just getting dark or in very early morning daylight-hard to tell. It clearly shows it had been stormy of late and you can see at least two P+C trailers in the parking lot in front of the store and what appears to be a large dump truck presumably to pick up debris. I found it late last year and it lacked any details. I also found a photo of one side of the Canton Bi-Lo and again while I can't be sure, it sure looks like a former pitched roof Acme to me. And now for a question: someone above mentioned this was a replacement store. Is the old building still standing and if so what's it being used for.

  8. The Jim Thorpe Acme was also tiny, although that one has been expanded on the front by it's current tenant, Jim Thorpe Market. It also has the interesting location of being down a steep hill alongside the river, to the point where I couldn't imagine someone not from the area even noticing it.

  9. Penn Traffic probably franchised the store after its Bilo days. The "Big M" brand was actually a brand of Penn Traffic for franchised Independent stores. they inherited it from the P&C chain Penn bought in 1988. at one time Penn Traffic was one of the largest wholesale companies but towards the end as its retail business declined so did the wholesale operation. whatever remains of the "Big M" is probably suppled by C&S as they became the supplieer to Penn before the Tops merger

  10. TW-Upstate... I took the pictures about a year ago. I should have mentioned that in the post since they are dated a bit.

  11. Definitely peculiar that the store was built so small. Even more peculiar that such a small town would generate enough business to justify such an expansion. Is Hallstead near any other towns that lost a grocery store at some point? That's the only reason I can think of for the store having grown so much in size- if that was the case, it likely made more sense to expand this one rather than build another Acme in the next town. Or maybe not? I have no idea.

    Too bad the addition completely lacked character- you'd think the original A-frame Lite could have been expanded in a more aesthetically-pleasing way.

  12. HAllstead used to have a foundary that was quite a big job for the area back when this store was young and all the way through the 80s before it closed. Plus, this was an area that people working at the IBM up in Binghamton used to live to escape NY taxes and so's really a depressed area of the poorest counties in PA...well until they found that natural gas.