Friday, May 20, 2011

The Acmes of Willingboro, New Jersey


Former Acme #1
Location: 498 Beverly Rancocas Road, Willingboro NJ

Although it's hard to tell from the front view, this former Acme is a pitched-roof model. The staggered awning does offer a clue while the rest of the facade has had it's pitched-roof features disguised. Not sure if the windows were covered over while that Acme was still here or if that was done when the 99¢ Depot moved in. I would tend to think the Acme was responsible for covering over the windows during a remodel. These discount stores rarely do much work on buildings before moving in. Satellite images down below reveal the awning was white after the Acme closed.  

Located in the Southern edge of town, this Acme opened in June 1969 and likely closed when the current Willingboro Acme opened in the center of town in the early 90's.

It is unusual to see a pitched-roof store with so many alterations but not having had an addition put onto the building. 



Some sort of activity appeared to be going on inside. I would have investigated further if this whole area wasn't so creepy.






Massive parking lot here which is pretty common with these pitched-roof stores. Plenty of room to expand out of the right side. Generally pitched-roof stores were either left mostly untouched throughout their lifetime (see Brown Mills and Parkesburg) or received complete transformations into more modern looking stores (see Princeton Junction and Wilkes-Barre). This one kinda fell into the middle. 

1995

1970

1963

Former Acme #2...

Acme

Location: 4340 Burlington Pike, Willingboro NJ

Village Mall
The 2 photos above appear on Acme Style by way of flickr's new sharing options. (I believe they're new... haven't noticed them before). The photos are from Tom Asher's Photostream which you can view by clicking here. Tom has a retail and restaurant photo collection worth checking out. A couple of former Acmes included that are not yet covered on Acme Style. You can also click on the photos above to be taken to Tom's collection.

In the photos is the old Village Mall in Willingboro located on Burlington Pike near Levitt Parkway. The mall was anchored on the right end by Woolco which then became a Caldor and an Acme on the left end. I don't know the whole story here but I believe the enclosed portion of the Village Mall struggled pretty much from day one. The Acme closed in 1993 when the replacement store opened. Caldor closed when the chain went under in 1999. The mall was than transformed into the Grand Marketplace which you can see below in the satellite images...

Acme all the way to the left. I didn't visit this mall on my trip to Willingboro nearly a year ago. At the time I had suspected that there was a former Acme at this location but hadn't yet confirmed that. With a long lists of stops on that road trip, this stop was one that got cut from the list but the satellite photos will do the trick...



The mall through the years...

2007

2002

1995

1971

Current Willingboro Acme...


Location: 2091 Route 130 (at Levitt Parkway), Willingboro NJ

The current Willingboro Acme opened in December 1993. Like so many Acmes out there, it is suffering from competition of other chains like good ol' ShopRite. I believe there are two ShopRites close to this Acme as well as a Pathmark just across the street. 

The 90's Red/White/Blue decor presented on Acme Style like never before. The only other location that I know of to still have this look is Morrisville NJ. I believe all other 90's stores have been remodeled.

Produce windows are still windows!


This first time I saw this decor package was back in the early 90's at the King of Prussia store. I had been out of the Acme loop for a few years and wasn't even aware that the company was building massive new stores. When I stumbled across the King of Prussia Acme (which happened by accident as I was headed to the shopping center for it's Tower Records), I went inside the Acme and was stunned by how huge and how different it was from every Acme I had seen until that point. Much busier too than any Acme I have ever been too. (King of Prussia currently has the "Industrial Circus" decor similar to the package at Bryn Mawr. It's headed for some challenging times as a Wegmans is being built down the road.)



Most stores have done away with all this additional signage that was rolled out in the early 2000's. It was designed to be paired up wit the the "Albertsons Marketplace" interiors but was put into Acmes of all shapes and sizes. 

You'll recognize these aisle markers from smaller stores that get stuck with them when these big ones are remodeled. See Sharon Hill.



The hood lights are left over from the "Max Pac" department which featured warehouse style deals. Acme put these in when stores like Costco and BJ's started to take off. Rockaway even had one of it's aisles removed to make a giant double wide Max Pac section. It didn't last very long. The 90's stores generally had this section located back by Dairy.


Neon backlights out in Dairy.


The arch concept carried over from the 80's and early 90's remodels. 


I still love this old look. Probably because Acme was still American Stores at the time.  



Willingboro is a massive store with some very nice landscaping. Too bad business here isn't what it used to be.  




2002
In 2002, the mall behind the Acme underwent a huge transformation. In fact, I don't believe it's a mall anymore. I was tempted to include pictures but kinda have my hands full with grocery stores. As much as I love malls, I have to be careful to not keeping branching out to new topics on the blog. I would love to hear a little bit about the mall's history if someone would like to give the scoop in the comment section.

1995

Pathmark is Acme's closet competitor. There are rumors that a Bottom Dollar will be opening soon close to the Acme. Does the Pathmark fill that entire building? Looks like Pathmark originated in the smaller section to the left and then expanded into the larger section to the right. 

28 comments:

  1. yay thank you for finally posting this store! i can remember shopping here when it first opened. its a shame it was never remodeled its one of the most dated grocery stores around. next time your in the area check out the burlington acme next to the wal mart on 541. that store is the NICEEST acme in the area. its laid out just like willingboro but has the lastest remdoel. every inch of the store has been redone. thats what needs to be done to this store.

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  2. Hi all. The former Acme at 498 Beverly Rancocas Rd. (“A” frame) in Willingboro actually closed around 1979 when the New Acme store # 1124 on route 130 in Willingboro opened. That store lasted into the mid 90’s when the brand new Acme # 7926 (current Acme) opened . This store does well, but could do much better.

    trex

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  3. i heard this store was supposed to be fully re modeled but only got a touch here and there in the end, and new freezers. the pathmark center also has a big lots next to it and the side parking on that acme is almost completely used for other stores and the college behind the acme, it desperately needs an upgrade and rumor has it it mostly stays open because the acme gets a tax break for staying there being the area is not that safe or appealing any longer and i never knew there was an acme on beverly rancocas road i seen that dollar store i had thought it was just where the former caldor and mini mall where(now the willingboro mart)

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  4. The larger building next to Pathmark was a King's; I found a Facebook group reminiscing about it a while back. It looks like Pathmark expanded into some of the store, with the rest going to Big Lots. Apparently the Pathmark was one of the originals from 1968, and was a Shop-Rite previously.

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  5. The original A-frame almost looks like a Colonial Cottage store so I'm wondering if it was remodeled to look like one at some point? The company obviously has a good history of doing business in the Willingboro area, as the 1979 store lasted only 14 years before needing replacement. Too bad its replacement has that imposing exterior design that makes the store look like a brick fortress. It took the company until the later part of the decade to get back to building stores that were aesthetically-pleasing, at least IMHO.

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  6. Rob,

    I like that term.

    I propose that we refer from here on to every early to mid 90s store as a "brick fortress"

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  7. Wait a minute... are you sure the Village Mall store opened in 1979? Because that mall was from 1973-1974. And I assumed the Big Lots next to Pathmark had to have been a Rickel. The Big Lots in Egg Harbor was a Rickel after all, the rest of which became an Office Depot which is now long gone. These combination stores were mostly built around 1982, right as A&P and Woolco were leaving the area. Not sure if anyone noticed but the Family Dollar and another store almost in the parking lot of Village Mall was an A&P. This store opened in 1959 as a true Centennial and closed in 1981, a little before the rest of the A&P Philadelphia division. But it still managed to reopen as a Super Fresh in 1985! They even expanded the Centennial roof, just like the Mercerville store, which shared a center with Acme... I heard shoplifting killed the Willingboro store, but it closed in 1995, right after Acme upgraded. The Super Fresh after all was probably twice the size of the original A&P. What really surprises me is that Acme would have built that 1993 store. Hard to say why it stays open (and Morrisville for that matter) with that horrible decor. They should just close it and maybe send the fixtures to a more classic Acme. I still think it looks brand new on the outside. By the time the early 90's Broomall and Clifton Heights PA stores were remodeled inside around 2003, they already looked old and tired. And I am not too familiar with Morrisville but it seems rich compared to those areas.

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  8. Glad you used my pics! If you see any more out there, put them to good use!

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  9. While I did not attend the ribbon cutting of store #1 on 25 Jun 1969, I did visit on it's grand opening week! It was at most a 20,000 sq ft store far from the Rt 130 business district. In 1969 the neighborhood was creapy!
    It was a new store for that area, and perhaps they wanted to be as far away from the hugh Pathmark/Rickles and a big Pantry Pride at Willingboro Mall as possible. The move to Rt 130 in the 1980's made sense, but in 1993 the feeling was that hugh combination stores were the wave of the future, and it does look beautiful on the outside, even though it's been there 18 years. There is a third store with the 1993 red, white & blue decor at 6640 Oxford Avenue, Philadelphia. That store was a 1959 model that was transformed in 1993 to the brick fortress model, with the red, white & blue decor. It's still there! You guessed it, a block away is the Shop Rite on the former Pantry Pride site, and it does all the business.

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  10. Wait! Village Mall started as a Pantry Pride?

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  11. Funny that Village Mall had a supermarket anchor from 1973-1993, the time frame when The Beatles Red and Blue Albums were being printed on vinyl. Ever since they have used CDs.

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  12. both the pathmark and shop rite in the area are gross, dirty old stores, compared to them the dated willingboro acme looks like a wegmans. i like the red brick fortress, very imposing to the competition.

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  13. Great to see the Willingboro Acme stores!
    To answer the webmaster's question about the Willingboro Plaza, this was an open-air shopping center centered on a central courtyard with landscaping and fountains. It opened in the early 60s with Woolworths, Sears, Pomeroys (a Reading, PA dept. store), Walgreens and Pantry Pride as anchors. Pantry Pride was roughly right behind where Acme is now.
    The plaza had a great selection of stores in its heyday like an ice cream parlor, sporting goods store, bowling alley, etc. It did really well but in the late 70s and 80s it lost business to the malls and before long it was totally vacant. the plaza was a white elephant for many years until the township redeveloped it. At the Pomeroys end is now a Medco distribution center for mail order prescriptions. If you get prescriptions by mail, it might come from Willingboro. The Woolworths was gutted and turned into the Willingboro public library and the Sears building was made into medical offices. Other retail, a Burlington County College branch and an apartment complex were also built there. It was an eyesore for many years but the redevelopment was very well-done and its now a showplace.

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    Replies
    1. The Woolworth s transformation into the new Willingboro library was quite interesting. They reduced the building to the original steel frame, and then worked out from there. The results are very impressive. I'm in that library at least twice a month. I do miss the old library building. That location was an easy walk from my house.

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  14. Anybody wants to see a really clean Acme with the latest remodel, check out the Medford Acme. That store is 65,000 Square feet and used to be a Jamesway years ago. You wouldn't know it though. That is the most impressive Acme I've been to so far. I find the Premium Fresh& Healthy Decor to be a bit dark, but brilliant from a merchandising standpoint. I'll have to check out the newest Willingboro Acme at some point. I've never been to that store in the 18 years it's been there. Looks like it could use an update from the pictures though.

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  15. that store has been in the dumps for a LONG time. i'll be surprised if it survives another year. i am still surprised it is open to be honest.

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  16. The Medford Acme has NEVER been a Jamesway. It opened as a brand new Acme, I don't recall the date. The building's birth started out as a Super "G", but Acme sued to take over the building, due to an agreement with the original land owners that Acme has first choice in the event they wish to build a new store.
    trex

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  17. The current Medford Acme was a Jamesway. The J-way closed sometime in the early 90's before the chain folded.

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  18. That awning on the first Acme is quite strange. Looks like something you'd see on a 70's-era A&P.

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  19. Thanks to the Anonymous poster on May 27th. The current Medford NJ Acme in Sharps Plaza was as I stated a Jamesway prior to being an Acme. I shopped there when it was a Jamesway back in the late 80's. The same goes for the Current Mt. Holly Acme which was a Jamesway in the 80's, Woolco prior to that, and a W.T. Grants prior to that.

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  20. Since the Willingboro pitched-roof closed in 1979, looks like the awning and front of the store were both altered after the Acme left.

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  21. i recently visited this particular location and the floral department is officially closed and all floral department items put on clearance displays such as things as ribbon rolls and vases. i inquired about this and was told the floral selection is now on two tables when you walk in on produce and i would suppose some seasonal things like mums. a shame it used to be a very busy store i would shop here as a young teen with my parents when it first opened this location. it was very busy then. we could not even get a bag of bagels they would be gone on sunday by 10 am.

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  22. Willingboro is currently being remodeled! The 90s d├ęcor is finally gone. The business at the store is up significantly from last year, and with Pathmark closing next month more business should come.

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  23. I just visited this store, it is in the process of a makeover, gone are all the 90s wall decor, light green paint is currently in the produce alcove, talked to a worker there who knows this blog and has been here, he says he thinks it will be a lower budget version of the decor burlington NJ got.

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  24. Pathmark closed September 6 2013. Bottom Dollar came in a few miles down the road late last year or early this year. Littler further past the Bottom Dollar is a Aldi. Been there since I moved here in late 09 Talks are a Shoprite is trying to come into the area(There is one in Willingboro but very small and run down) The other nearby Shoprite is in Delran on 130.

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  25. ACME Celebrates Grand Reopening of Willingboro Store

    WHAT: ACME Markets celebrates the Grand Reopening of their Willingboro store.

    WHEN: Friday, October 18th at 9:00 am

    WHERE: ACME Willingboro
    2091 Route 130 North
    Willingboro, NJ 08046

    WHO: Dan Croce, VP of ACME Markets
    Jacqueline Jennings, Willingboro Mayor
    Eddie Campbell, Willingboro Deputy Mayor
    Troy Singleton, NJ State Assemblyman
    Gregory Rucker, Director of Public Safety, Willingboro Township Police Dept.
    Also invited: Bruce Garganio, Burlington County Freeholder Director

    HIGHLIGHTS:
    • ACME Markets is celebrating the grand re-opening of their Willingboro store.
    • ACME Markets will award three $500 donations to Willingboro High School, Willingboro Little League, Alpha Baptist Church, and a bench made of recycled materials to Willingboro Senior Center.
    • On Saturday, Oct. 19th, Eagles alumni player AJ Feely, Swoop, and two Eagles cheerleaders will be appearing at the store.

    -Via Facebook

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  26. I grew up near that Willingboro Acme #1. We moved to Willingboro in the early eighties. That store has been a bevy of failed supermarkets since that time. I don't know why more creative development has not taken place there. I hope you went to Gaetano's on the opposite end of that shopping center, best steaks in the universe!

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  27. I live within a half mile of the Acme #1 location. I have for most of my life. I remember shopping there for my mother as a kid. I walked past it every day on the way home from high school. I now own the house I grew up in, and walk past the empty building quite often. It's such a shame that nobody has managed to do something with it. Every attempt over the years has met with failure. As a user mentioned above, do yourself a favor. Get a steak from Gaetano's. You'll be glad you did!

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