Friday, January 28, 2011

Soon-to-be former Acme – Limerick, PA

Location: 31 West Ridge Pike, Limerick, Pennsylvania

The Limerick Acme opened in the spring of 2007 and has struggled ever since. Giant, paired up with a Target, opened 6 months earlier just across the street and proved to be the bigger draw for grocery shoppers. The Acme is set to close by the end of February just shy of it's 4th anniversary which qualifies it as a "crash and burn" here at Acme Style. This store, along with many others that were built throughout the 2000's, never stood a chance largely due to the lousy locations where they were built.

In a desperate move back in February 2009, Acme closed it's nearby store in Collegeville in hopes of luring Acme shoppers to the new Limerick location which was about 5 miles away. Clearly that plan didn't work. Collegeville was still a successful store when it closed but was facing competition from a Wegmans that was being built nearby. The Collegeville store remains abandoned to this day as Acme continues to hold the lease to prevent a planned ShopRite from moving in. 

The Limerick Acme has a very contemporary exterior design not seen on any other stores in the chain. I'm not sure if this is the newest Acme to have been built but it's certainly one of the very few stores that have opened in the past 5 years. The interior is the original "Premium Fresh and Healthy" decor. The jury is still out on that decor package. It is attractive yet extremely dark. With no new Acmes on the horizon, this may be the last original decor package we'll see for the chain. Stores currently under going remodels, are receiving a redesigned version of the Premium Fresh and Healthy look.  

One element not seen in Acme stores for decades now is windows along the front of the store. Grocery stores generally went windowless in the 90's as the front walls became populated with customer service departments, banks and pharmacies. Checkouts line the windowed wall here with no merchandise along the wall to block the view to the outside... just like the good ol' days of Acme.

The Pharmacy is located on the right-side of the store along with a drive-up on the side of the building... 

 The Pharmacy closed on January 18th.

Looks like someone forgot the "your" or at the very least... "the".

Some very blurry images to come. With the lack of merchandise and shoppers and an abundance of employees, it was difficult to be discreet while taking pictures. I had to snap pictures quick and keep moving. I was going to ditch the blurry ones but decided to include them since they still give a good idea of how the store looks. 

The Deli was still open but with very limited selection. The Bakery was shut down. Most service departments around the store were completely wiped out. Strangely enough... most grocery shelves were still fully stocked and there were no %off sales in progress. In fact, I saw no signage that mentioned the store was closing. 

Here we are in the Wild Harvest section of the store. I was very surprised to see it fully stocked. All straight aisles here too. Other stores have the "Shop the World" section to the rear with oddly angles aisles which make for a strange shopping experience. 

A couple of grocery aisles are starting to empty out. When I was here, there was an announcement made that "the Acme truck has arrived!" I was surprised to see quite a lot of employees in the store. Some just going around blocking merchandise on shelves. 

Dairy is along the back of the store and continues over to the left right wall. 

Not quite 20 aisles. 20 is the back half while 19 is the front half. 

Do people still get pictures developed? It has to be at least 5 years since I last dropped off film anywhere.  I will say... that P drives me nuts. I've seen it this way in other stores. It could have easily been dropped down to be lower case like the "y" was over in the bakery. 

The employees were very friendly and as much as I wanted to, I didn't have the heart to ask when the store was closing for good. 

UPDATE 2.13.11: Some additional interior photos have come in. Much sharper that the ones I had taken...

Until just very recently, the aerial shots of this area showed the land undeveloped. 

But now the Acme does show up in the satellite images.

Sad parking lot. Wait until you see the crowds over at Giant.

Giant be jammin'. Look below to see how both store's parking lots compare...

Yep, nobody shops at the Acme. Would it kill them to be competitive? Why spend all the money to build a new store and then just get crushed by the competition?  

And now let's head over to Giant and see what's so great about it...

During the 90's, I was a fiercely loyal Giant shopper and was quite convinced that it was the best supermarket chain I had ever done business with. (Sorry Acme) After relocating to New Jersey, Giant was no longer an option. I then began shopping at Edwards which was Giant's sister chain. A few years later, the Edwards banner was inexplicably eliminated in favor of the far inferior Stop and Shop banner. All chains are owned by Ahold, yet none, including Giant Maryland division, come close to the excellence that it is Giant PA. (Giant MD has a similar logo and uses the same fruit bowl icon as Stop and Shop).

In the early 90's, Giant had an aging fleet of stores. Some were so painfully dated it was hard to understand how they were still open. Early in that decade, stores began to be remodeled at a dizzying pace. By the mid 90's, it was hard to find a store that hadn't been extensively upgraded and remodeled from floor to ceiling. Heading into the late 90's, Giant showed no signs of slowing down and began building larger replacement stores for many of the previously remodeled locations. Within 10 years the chain had virtually reinvented all of it's stores and drastically increased it's store counts. I don't have any statistics to back this up but from my obesrvations alone, Giant appears to have one of the most aggresive remodel and new store construction plans of any chain out there.  

In the mid-90's, Giant started rolling out very interesting store decor theme which continues to this day. They favor a rather cartoonish look to their department signage with no expense sparred on decor elements throughout the entire store. Throughout the 90's Giant, like Acme, was big on the all-white interiors. They have since switched to warmer color schemes but keep a very playful sense to the decor. 

Why make the Butcher Shoppe appear high-end when you can make it look fun!

Very nicely designed pet aisle decor.

And more great design down the frozen food aisle...

Back in the early 90's, Giant was refused to jump on the trend of requiring customers to have a card to qualify for sale prices. In fact, the company's quirky president Alan Noddle, explained in TV commercials that no card was needed to shop it's stores and that sale prices were available to everyone. A few years later, Giant gave into the trend and began issuing it's "Bonus Card". Unlike other chains who always seem to be rebranding their pricing themes, Giant has stuck with it's "Bonus Buys" theme since the 90's bringing consistency to the chains pricing policy. Other stores, such as A&P and Pathmark, desperately change their pricing themes and ad campaigns far too frequently hoping something will eventually resonate with shoppers.  

Stop and Shop has the "relax. renew. revive." theme in Health and Beauty as well but Giant takes it to another level. It's still hard for me to believe that Stop and Shop and Giant are related. The difference between the two chains is night and day.

The Corner Bakery still located in the far front corner of the store. Giant is one of the few chains that hasn't bumped the Bakery over to perishable and service intensive section of the store. 

Giant's signature front end. The register lights are standard issue throughout the chain. Sure beats Acme's hideous, generic register lights which just get junked up with advertisements that no one cares about. Nearly every register was open here... with lines.

Day care at a grocery store? Giant's got it!

Giant and Target... a killer combination that put Acme out of business. 


  1. Seems like the leadership of Giant PA learned from their competitors (Wegmans and Shoprite) better than Giant-Landover/Stop & Shop. Stop and Shop will find a rude surprise in a few years if Wakefern keeps expanding in CT and NY at their current pace.

  2. Limerick Giant is one of the more successful stores in the company. There is another Giant in Royersford maybe 2 miles up Township Line Road. That store is older (early 2000's) but still does well. There is a Genuardi's right next to the Royersford Giant that in the late 90's was extremely successful. That Genuardi's is now doing around $100,000 a week. The Acme was doing around $175,000 on good weeks while Limerick Giant does close to $1 million and the Royersford store does around $500,000. It really is amazing how much things have changed in the last 10 years in the suburban Philadelphia grocery market. The Wegmans in Collegeville that everyone so feared is doing very well but has not affected any of the nearby Giant's too bad. One of the main reasons Acme closed their Collegeville location was because there is a Redners right next door which gets their groceries from Supervalu. They decided it would be cheaper to continue to sell groceries to Renders and close the Collegeville Acme location. It is sad how Acme absolutely refuses to compete. In the months leading up to the opening of the Collegeville Wegmans Giant lowered prices at stores close to the Wegmans to be competitive. Stores as far away as Harleysville had prices lowered throughout the store to try and keep customers. Acme stood pat even as this location was being killed by Giant on a weekly basis not to mention the possibility that Wegmans could take some of their business. Its just sad to watch the state that Acme is in today, especially after reading the Grocerteria article that showed how at one point in its history Acme was so competitive that they drove Penn Fruit out of business.

  3. They should just reopen the Collegeville store.

  4. Weird question but what brand of cash registers does Giant use, IBM, NCR or HP?

  5. Hi, They canT compete because thier corporate owners are hell bent on sucking the life out of them. Charge them a six percent upcharge for groceries, then charge Acme for Acme Drivers that earn 30 or more dollars per hour. No one but no one has such a burden to deal with in this business. It their is a god in heaven he will move the lunk head who is the Chairman of Supervalu to spin of the East coast rretail chains and simply sign a contract to supply them for four years.
    Hopefully a Grocer not a wholesaler and not a Walmart reject, will be picked to run the spun off company. With the proper leadership this company could turn around.

  6. Was this a replacement store?

    It seems that Acme's success rate in opening stores in new areas is substantially worse than when they build a replacement store.

  7. This was not a replacement store. Collegeville Acme wasn't even 15 years old when this store opened. They used a replacement store as an excuse for closing Collegeville when in reality it was doing more than this store ever did save its first week.

  8. sad to see this store go. I really liked this store. They had an amazing opening, their first week doing 150k more than giants average. However, every week after that was a big drop until some weeks they barely made it over 100k. After a few months, they were increasing and usually doing 250k on a usual non holiday week. They did not see much improvement from the closing of collegeville or the trappe superfresh (not much to be gained as they were only doing 80k). From what I heard they took a huge hit from the opening of the wegmans and ridge pike being closed for months.

    I remember when this store first opened they had some major flaws. I remember one of the sky lights being ripped out in a storm and it was snowing in the store. Also, the dry wall did not go up to the ceiling around the perimeter (can be seen in many of the pictures) the heat was escaping so they began to block off above dairy and the rx with painted ply wood(can be seen in the picture of aisle 19/20 [look at the side above yogurt vs the back]and the picture of the frozen food aisle facing forward) One thing which bothered me about this store for some reason is how they set up frozen and gm. Gm is the first half of the last few aisles and frozen is the back half of some of the aisles and they do not line up. This can be seen in the picture of frozen food looking toward gm/rx.

  9. I'm one of the cashiers that works at acme and its been dead in the store for the past couple of weeks ever since rige pike closed it effected not just us but a couple other businesses i thought we would have a nother year but i guess i was wrong.

  10. I also am one of the employees at the Limerick Acme and yes there are probably many reasons as to why this location is now closing. I strongly feel that the company could have been more competitive and done a much better job at advertising in the surrounding area. It was unbelievable to me how many people didn't even know the store existed until they saw it was closing on the news or in the newspaper...not to mention that they all lived within a 5 mile radius to the store. Either way whatever the reasoning there is a bigger event at hand....the one everyone seems to be overlooking while critisizing the company as a whole....the fact that many of us are now losing our jobs! We all have families to take care of and while it is easy to throw stones at the company please keep in mind that we are deeply saddened by the loss of our store and had worked many years to service our community. We took pride in being the best in Customer Service....something you will not see at your beloved Giant!!!

  11. This is a cool Acme. One of my favorites, architecturally.

  12. This design exists at the (I think) remodeled store at 6601 Roosevelt Blvd (Rt 1) northeast of Philly.

  13. wow that is a bangin ass (well was i guess now) store...beautifully created and designed. only acmes i seen with a great upkept interior are moorestown, cinnaminson and this one...

  14. The store actually opened at the end of August 2007 because I remember coming back from the shore in 2008 and shopping and they were having a one year anniversary. Oddly enough acme and giant were in a bidding war over the location next to the target. After acme backed out, giant said that one more higher bid from acme, giant would have backed out. I still wonder what would have been if acme is where the giant is?

  15. supervalu doesn't want a union, or to pay experienced people what they make and their benefits. that's already known. they probably didn't even want acme, so what do they care...all the strong survive...acme is known to have the highest paid and best benefit packages for its pretty much new list of former employees and the lucky ones who have a job still...after supervalu chases or fires the rest out. why won't the company give answers to anyone? because they do not care!

  16. I think even if the Acme had been in the Giant spot it would still be doing poorly. It probably would still be open but if it was reversed and Giant was across the street I still think Giant would be much more successful. The location of this store has nothing to do with why its closing, Acme just no longer chooses to compete with other grocers and Giant is one of the most competitive chains out there.

  17. Let's not forget that Pottstown begged Acme to stay open and even offered them deals on their taxes, but Acme closed. The same thing with Boyertown. Both stores are only minutes away from the Limerick Acme. Why would the customers that shopped Acme for years at Pottstown and Boyertown drive to Limerick and support the same store that left them high and dry, forcing them elsewhere for their groceries. People don't forget.
    Speaking of Boyertown...FYI, when the new Quakertown Acme opened, Boyertown sales were higher then the new Quakertown store, and they still closed Boyertown.

  18. For Any ACME Full-Time Customer Service Rep who's store is closing, they should look into bumping the head Full Time CSR at the Phoenixville Acme. They wouldn't need all that many Full Time years to bump for this position held at Phoenixville. It beats being sent to a store that is out of your jurisdiction & costly travel expenses

  19. So what went wrong in Pottstown and Boyertown?

  20. Hey Acme Style. First of all this has got to be one of the nicest Acmes I have ever seen. In my opinion it looks like somebody took an old Penn Fruit arch roof store (I love those old Penn Fruit buildings) and split it in half and put a superstore inbetween. the exterior seems more lively than the interior which looks more cold and sterile though I do like the Premium fresh and Healthy decor package. Sad to see it go. Surprised to know that such an Acme Historian as yourself has such kind words for Giant. (I happen to work for the latter BTW) It's a shame why Acme cant compete on price with Giant and Shoprite. (which puzzles me because Shoprite like Acme is a Union Shop) it seemed like the larger the stores got, the higher the prices went and that they stopped becoming competitive all the while Shoprite gets agressive, Giant gets agressive, Wegmana opens state of the art behemoths and Acme becomes an also ran. Sad. I have got to say that this is a GREAT blog. This is a great tribute to a great American food retail institution. and I love how you balance chain/store history with news on currenr operations. This blog alongside Labelscar and Pleasant Family Shopping in my humble opinion are that all other retail history blogs should be judged on. You and your contributors do a most professional job. Keep it up.

    By the way, here's a interesting fact Alan Noddle, the former head of Giant is the brother of Jeff Noddle the former Head of Supervalu (Acme's parent)

  21. "This blog alongside Labelscar and Pleasant Family Shopping in my humble opinion are that all other retail history blogs should be judged on."

    Wow. Roy, you could not have given Acme Style a higher compliment than that! Thank you very much!

    I am a fan of grocery stores in general. Acme will always be my number one obsession. I have moved on to other grocery stores over the years due to the fact that I have not lived near an Acme since the early 90's. And ultimately... Acme really isn't Acme anymore. The Acme I used to love disappeared when American Stores sold out to Albertsons and things have only gotten worse with SuperValu. But the good ol' days of Acme will hopefully live on forever on Acme Style!

  22. Well let's see if I can recall....Acme informed the Pottstown City council that the store would close in thirty days and the township requested that the store remain open mainly for the elderly that walk to this store. Also at this time I am to believe that the township offered to give Acme considerable tax rebates. Acme still left the area. So since the Limerick Acme is so close to the closed Pottstown Acme area, I really doubt the locals would drive several miles to patronize the Limerick Acme.
    Also, almost any decent truck driving jobs in the region pay between $15 and $25 per hour. Add another $10 or so if they are offered health and retirement benefits.

  23. Its sad to see yet another Acme go, this was a great Acme in itself, and so was the Collegeville store. Me and my dad used to deliver Kodak film to stores for several years. Basically, take a roll of film to a store to get it developed, we'd come pick it up, take it to the processing plant, it gets processed, and we bring the developed pictures back. Doing that, I got to see many stores, inside and out, and meet many different people.

    Unfortunately, we are no longer driving due to an incident at a Walmart in another town (I ironically work for another Walmart, and nothing was ever done about the person that caused the problems.) Anyway, out of all of the Acme's we delivered to, I'd have to say the Collegeville store was always busy, even with another grocery store nearby, so its sad that Acme made the decision to close that. Again, in Limerick, GIANT was always a lot busier than Acme, but I think it was there longer too, so it had an advantage.

  24. Giant uses IBM cash registers, for the poster towards the top. I used to shop at the ACME in Paoli all the time, but when Giant bought Clemens, I started doing my shopping at the Frazer Giant. From what I see, business doesn't seem to be too different at Giant after Wegmans opened up. I just find ACME to be "too cluttered"

  25. that looked like a nice store, just a little dark or lighting wise. some stores are just right, some are way too bright, and some just have that dark lighting feeling even though the stores may be's odd.

  26. acme is now closed

  27. i know what happened with cinnaminson, nj and moorestown, nj acme employees pretty well, but does anyone know what happened to the people in locations that closed in pennsylvania or maryland? or i forgot millville, nj i heard some people in pa stores got laid off.

  28. Acme in Limerick, PA

    I was in the Limerick Acme one morning and the Salad Bar was left out all night and open to the public the next morning. Happy Eating.

    Acme failed to keep up with the times and modern Supermarkets. The horse and buggy and the Edsel are out dated too.

    Acme failed to respond to the customer and the marketplace and what Giant Supermarket was doing hard to compete against Wegmans.

    Glad we are getting a ShopRite in Hatfield for our Harleysville fans.

    Genaurdis and Clemens saw the writing on the wall and got out at the right time and sold at a high price.

  29. By the way the ACME looks, I should expect our Genuardis to go soon.

  30. Giant + Wegmans in the same market tends to bury weaker competitors.

  31. What stores do we need in Quakertown ?

    Do we need a Supermarket ?

    Will Aldi do well ?

    SuperWalmart will eat up the marketplace.

    Will K-Mart close ?

    The Genuardis in West Point on Route 63 is a dump - dirty -old expired food - gray meat - sour milk -got milk .

    Whats doing with the VACANT Genuardis in Lansdale - Any news on the SuperFresh in Hatfield ?

    Will Giant lose business in Hatfield ?
    Maybe poor location for Giant.

    Giant should have gone next to Lowes in Hatfield.

    Hennings -are you going to lower your price's ?

    Weis is wise - doing some nic reno's in Lansdale and fair prices.

    Good luck.

  32. This is a store Acme should re-open and give Giant and Target a run for their money, I drive by the old Limerick store everyday on my way to work, and it was such a nice store. I think Albertsons LLC can make this store a success!

  33. Shoprite now has no reason not to expand, the only chain holding them back was the A&P/Pathmark Duo. For ever 1 shoprite A&P had atleast 2 stores. My area alone to 3 shoprites A&P had 4 stores which slowed Shoprites growth, Now A&P is gone so shoprite has the advantage to grow faster than ever before.

  34. Used to Be an ACME market on Main street in Royersford,PA where lebows furniture store is at.It closed in the late 50s There was an Acme markets in Spring city it closed in the late 1970s The one was underwater in 1972

  35. After sitting for 6 years, the former Limerick Acme was divided in half and the far side will soon be an Aldi. The other half of the store has yet to be leased out. They removed the drive thru pharmacy. Very sad to see this once beautiful Acme transform into a bottom of the barrel Aldi. Guess it could have been worse, and became a Save A Lot!