Friday, May 27, 2011

Former Acme – Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Classic images courtesy of trex354

Location: 63 North Union Avenue, Lansdowne PA

An Acme Style first... a pitched-roof store with the red-oval logo. I've never seen one in person and this is the only one I've ever seen in pictures. The red oval logo doesn't always guarantee that the 80's remodel happened on the inside but if I had to guess I would say this store did get the remodel. This store opened in December 1966 and lasted until 2005. Judging from the parking lot in the aeiral shots over the decades, the place had a pretty good run. Even outlasted a larger more modern competitor just steps. (We'll get to that later) The Lansdowne Acme also outlived the 33M model about 2 miles south in the Yeadon Plaza.

The classic pictures seen here were sent in by trex354 quite a long time ago. I try to keep some treasures in the vault as long as I can to keep things interesting around here. Truth be told... I kinda lost track of this place and was pretty excited to discover the pictures again. The Lansdowne store is a rare sight. As I've mentioned in the past, I never saw a pitched-roof store with the 80's remodel. I did see one in the early 90's with the Checkerboard Arch decor (the former Smyrna, Delaware store) but I'm about 99.9% sure it had a drop ceiling at the time. 

Some pitched-roof stores had the blue windows seen above. Were these stores built this way or was the blue added later? From the outside, the windows looks rather opaque possibly blocking all view and most of the exterior light. 

And today the store is...

But this is not a case of SuperValue killing an Acme to bring in Save a Lot. The Acme closed prior to SuperValu purchasing Albertsons/Acme in June 2006. 

Save a lot takes up about 3/4 of the building. The left side of the store, which would have been the Acme's frozen food and dairy departments, appears to be empty. 

Notice the single door to the right side. Surprisingly, it was like that back in the Acme days...

Only one produce receiving door with an unusually narrow back room at this side of the store (assuming the layout here was similar to the standard pitched-roof model). Nearly all stores that had a door here had two doors. You can compare the set up here with that of the Clayton store by clicking here.

Pretty decent conversion of the exteriror. Let's have a look inside...

Entrance and exit doors with very small produce case along the right wall. Fresh offerings are extremely limited at Sav a lot.

This was my first visit to a Sav a Lot. Can't say I would go back anytime soon. 

Products are stacked in the cases they came in. Saves labor hours for stocking shelves to help keep prices low. 

Up for some aerial views of the situation... 

Interesting delivery dock situation here. No room along the back of the store so they had to stick it out of the side. Below is an image from trex354 showing the Acme trailers backed up for unloading...

In the upper right hand corner, you'll see the abandoned Super Fresh store. Bigger, more modern than the Acme but in this case the Acme proved to be the stronger of the two. 

Former Super Fresh image courtesy of JoshAustin

The image above is from JoshAustin610's flickr collection. He reports that the store started out as an A&P and was eventually converted to a Super Fresh which closed in 2001. Acme wins this round! But look who's coming to town next...

Giant arrived in 2004. Acme managed to hang on until 2005, making it one of the longest surviving, pitched-roof stores in the chain. Nearly untouched from it's first day just like the Clayton store

A slightly smaller store compared to the average size store that Giant is building these days.

Looks like the Acme was still getting a healthy crowd back in 2002.

Super Fresh had called it quits the year before. Hard to believe they couldn't beat out Acme with a bigger store and roomier parking lot. Maybe there's more to the story here. 

In the last satellite photo available with the Acme still in business, Giant had yet to arrive. 

Jumping back 2 decades here... Acme looks like it was the place to be! One of our first looks at pitched-roof store that could have used a bigger parking




  1. The A&P was built in 1975, but would have sat "empty" over a year between 1982 and 1983. Why Acme didn't try to move there surprises me. Very possible Acme bid on the store but was turned down. Genuardi's bought the ex-A&Ps in Norristown and Royersford PA in 1982, and placed a bid on the Conshohocken one. A&P decided the Conshohocken store was not for sale and it was a Super Fresh for over 15 years. So ironically is that in the early 2000s, Super Fresh closed, and this became the last Genuardi's ever opened. Safeway had just bought that chain. You also would think Acme would have moved their A Frame in Upper Darby (next to Lansdowne) to the old Food Fair nearby. This Acme opened in 1963, a little before the Lansdowne store, but was in a shopping center. The Lansdowne one might be the most "hidden" grocery store or any kind of store I have ever seen. But the neighborhood around Food Fair (called Barclay Square and Beverly Hills) is slightly poorer. For comparison, here is the Upper Darby Acme when it opened:

    And how it has looked since 1997, but yes the original building is still there:

    This is also part of it now:

    And where they should have moved (the Lansdowne store could have gone here too):

    A more recent photo, but now it is empty again:

  2. And I meant to say a TJ Maxx was planned for the Super Fresh, but I guess that never happened. Same thing happened with Marshalls here:

    As for the Acme in Yeadon, it did seem very close. The store started in 1969 as a rare original Super Saver (minus the Acme name). I highly suspect the Save-A-Lot next door was a 50's Acme it replaced. At the same time Super Saver opened, Genuardi's bought the spot next door. They left in 1972 thanks to Acme's aggressive competition. Not sure what moved in after that. No sooner did the Super Saver receive the Acme oval than crime start to eat away at the store. I even found this unbelievable story about it:

    Then it closed in November 2001. I seem to recall the huge sign not even being painted over until 2004 or 2005. At that point it was still readable. Now a furniture store actually uses it for their own sign. An IGA market used only part of the store for a short time, which seemed to violate Acme's lease restrictions. This center, even the newer CVS in the parking lot, was once labeled as "blight" and came close to being torn down.

    The Acme in Boyertown PA (built 1962) was another A Frame that got the oval logo before it closed around 1998. This sign is still partly visible even with CVS and Advance Auto Parts filling the space. What is also odd is how this store slightly outlived the A Frame right over the county line in Pottstown which operated from 1964-1991. More recently it was torn down for a Redner's, but the rest of the plaza is a time capsule. What must have killed the store was when the nearby Pathmark closed and was restored by Genuardi's. But Redner's helped cannibalize that store. I guess people are more anti-union in the more "redneck" parts of Pennsylvania and that has hurt Acme over time.

  3. The A Frame innChestertown was remodled and expanded in the early 80!s recieved the Red Oval and since has been remodeled the red oval is still over the store

  4. I can also think of the stores in Dallas, PA and Sunbury, PA as pitched roofs with the red oval logo ... the Dallas store also had the 80s remodel ... I have pictures of both stores, I'll have to find them and scan them in ...

  5. What decor did the Lansdowne store have when it closed?

  6. I worked in that Acme for 13 years and I still work for acme. Those 13 years were the best at Acme or any job. the store was a family of employees and customers. it was the supermarket, corner store and the neighborhood meeting spot. What stopped that store was bad management, fear of change, thinking outside the box and just laziness. If you have a store where most of the purchases were by poor and fixed income customers, then bacon wrapped filet is a product that they shouldn't have sold. The only way that high end stuff ever left was in someones pocket. If you think about it, its still an Acme company supermarket, Save a lot, and that store is still thriving. I hate that they gave up on that store because it was such a huge part of that neighborhood. the decor was about the same as the pictures, but what was nice was the cleanliness. It was a good , little , average, clean, safe store. With a guard and changing its sales more towards a convenient store sales plan, (not a lot of selection, just the necessities) that store could still be thriving as an Acme (think Acme Express). I loved that store and miss it. Thanks to the people of Lansdowne for all the great years.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. As a customer, close to the end, I did think of it as dirty and disorganized as well as ALWAYS found old food on the shelves, but otherwise I agree with what you stated.

  7. That Acme on Union Ave in EAST Lansdowne boro, was a disaster, the management could not have cared less about the store, if they tried, just simply awful. Dirty, disorganized, stupid, old stock, rude to customers, bad. The chain changed hands a few times and there was a push to close all the stores in the poorer areas, even though I think a couple performed ok. This meant that a bunch in that part of the Philly burbs would all close. There was fight from a few of the communities and I think it was the Sharon Hill store that held on the longest. Yeadon was a big deal too, as there were not many other stores close by, so folks were pretty upset, understandably. Ultimately all of those stores closed, while they focused on bigger newer locations and resets. Truth be told, many of us, close to the that unit in the picture, sort of cheered when it closed as they really did deserve it, for reasons I mentioned above. Anyway, I do recall another store, growing up, on the way to the Jersey shore, probably around Pittman NJ, that i think also had the pitched roof and the colored glass panels. Although I can't guarantee my recall on the colored panels, and likewise won't promise that I trust my feeling like there were white panels too, not just blue.