Friday, August 19, 2011

Jersey Shore Acme, Brigantine NJ

Location: 4236 Harbor Beach Blvd, Brigantine NJ

Brigatine, New Jersey. For years that meant one thing to me... Brigantine Castle... "In the darkest reaches of the mind... there has never been anything like Brigntine!" As a kid I was obsessed with haunted houses and would go crazy with excitement when those commercials would play on TV back in the late 70's. I begged my parents to take me to it but they never did. Our shore destinations were always on LBI with one or two visits to Wildwood. My dad did take me to a bunch of cool haunted houses along the Jersey Shore. I still remember one of the quite vividly. One of the best I've ever been too. Can't remember if it was in Seaside Heights or down in Wildwood. Sadly, the tragic fire at Great Adventure's haunted house back in 1984 pretty much put an end to the haunted house industry at the time. For those who remember Brigantine Castle, whether you actually got to go to it or just remember the awesome commercials on TV, you'll want to go back in time and visit Brigatine Castle Online. To view some of the old commercials, click here or see below...

And speaking of Great Adventure, if you'd like to tour that amusement park's history, click here. I've spent way too much time on that site!

Back to the Acme! Kinda looks like a castle itself, doesn't it? A plain one anyway. We've talked about the 90's Acmes looking a bit castle-like. Thing is... Acme didn't build this store. It started out as something else. May have changed a few times over the years. I can't find any information about it's past other than an old listing for a "Shop and Bag" in Brigatine at this same address. The satellite images of this store continue to show it as something else. The sign is too small to read. 

So my best guess is that Acme took over this location in the mid-2000's. Judging from my visit, it was a very smart move. I was here early on a Saturday morning this summer. Have never seen a busier Acme. The place was packed. It's a relatively small store with no pharmacy. This castle-like facade is not the center of the store as you would undoubtedly assume. The left wall of the interior of the store extends back from the left tower. There is no entrance or exit on that side. You can see "ENTRANCE" spelled out in the top photo, directing customers to that side as it's the only entrance and exit to the store. A Family Dollar occupies the other portion of the building. The building itself looks to have been designed entirely for a supermarket with the Family Dollar space being sub-divided at a later date. Certainly previous to the Acme moving in.  

No entrance on this side. Customer Service is in the corner with the counter facing towards the entrance. Tough getting good pictures that day with the sun glare. My interior shots are among the worst I have ever taken. It was the first stop of the day which usually finds me rushing through the store to get moving onto the next location. The place was full of shoppers and employees which doesn't make for easy picture taking. Especially with a cell phone that has to be held dead still for several seconds to get a clear image. 

I've been seeing Acme employees sporting these new colorful t-shirts for the past few months now. They come in a variety of colors and don't appear to be department specific. The "Your Store..." brings back a lot of memories of Acme's tagline "Your Store for Low Prices" which was used for years. Acme seems to have taken a cue from Apple, as have other retailers, in dressing their sales associates in bold colored t-shirts. Makes for spotting employees much easier and gives a fun, team-like quality to the staff. I think it's a great move on Acme's part. Is this a change made just for the summer or are these permanent new uniforms? 

Scaled down version of the original Premium Fresh and Heathy decor package. Cases around the store may have been left from the former grocery store here. They're not as contemporary as Acme has been using in the 2000's. Produce lines the left wall. 

Bakery is across from the Produce wall. You can see employees here in blue t-shirts. Huge selection of baked goods here.

The Deli is next to the Bakery. There Deli was mobbed with customers.  

Ala Cart is across from the Deli in the back corner of the store. Most extensive selection I've seen of prepared foods to go in an Acme. The higher-end elements of the Premium Fresh and Healthy decor are missing here... most notably the focused lighting over the fresh offerings. The low ceiling over this part of the store may have prevented the track lighting from being installed. 

Back in the Meat Department we see some of the nicer elements of the PF&H decor package... the curved overhangs with the recessed lights and backlit department signs. This store was nicely organized and very well stocked all around.   

An empty aisle was a rare sight on this visit. Notice the the cascading ceiling. 

The ceiling comes back down to a low level in Dairy. This is aisle 11. Frozen Food is in the front corner (just behind where I'm standing). They run parallel to the front of the store. 

A good shot of the interesting ceiling. This wall is the front of the store with the registers to the right of this department. 

Only 5 full-service registers. Enough for the winter season but it's makes for rough summer shopping. By the time I left, all registers where open with long lines. 

On to the aerials...

Family Dollar is there on the left side but who knows what the grocery store was. May have been an entrance and exit at the left tower at this time. 

Perhaps a major supermarket chain built this store but then left. It doesn't look like it was origianlly designed to house separate tenants. 

Historical aerials...


Store was subdivided at this point. You can see the air conditioning units over the left portion which are still there today. 

Next available image is 1970 leaving 25 years of development undocumented for us.

Acme is the only major supermarket on the island. 

Atlantic City, home of some former Acmes, is just due South of Brigantine. Absecon, which is just a few miles inland, is home to a former Acme which you can visit by clicking here. The building has since been subdivided into smaller stores. A current photo of the building can be seen by clicking here


  1. Glad to hear a success story with Brigantine! I too had heard that it previously was a Shop 'n Bag. Acme closed the Absecon store in February 2008, and Brigantine opened in April 2008! Did they move the some of the fixtures and decor from Absecon to Brigantine?

  2. CONGRATULATIONS to Acme Style on hitting 80,000 "customers", and Best Wishes for many more visitors to this great blog!

  3. Very interesting Bill! With those dates, it could very well mean that Brigatine was a replacement for Absecon. Perhaps Acme chose to get out of ShopRite's way rather than giving up on the area altogether. Cases may have been taken out of the Absecon store for Brigatine, although Absecon did have the 90's Red/White/Blue decor package.

    Thanks Penn Fruit Fan! Customer counts are surging once again this summer. There's no denying the appeal of the Jersey Shore on the blog. Next stop: 100,000!

  4. Hello all. Acme Style, the market that was in this location was the "Brigantine Market" and was supplied by SuperValu. Years ago it was an IGA, also supplied by SuperValu and other wholesalers, so I have been told. And yes it is a replacement for the Absecon Acme that closed. The last time I was in Absecon, the Shop Rite was trying to negotiate a lease for the Absecon Acme, no luck. When Acme moved into the Absecon location in the 90's they did very well, dispite there being a Shop Rite just a block to the south on Rt. 9. The Acme in Absecon moved to that location after Super Fresh left. I will send the exact dates next week if you need or are interested.

  5. in regards to the uniform they come in blue, red and yellow and there worn may-oct. for the winter they are supposed to be sending in a new type of shirt.

  6. Wegmans has been doing the T-shirt thing for the last few years; it's not all year round, but every year when they're inevitably get voted one of the "Top 100 Best Places To Work" they get t-shirts to wear saying so for a while.

  7. This store was a Fleming (there's a name from the past)developed and supplied store. It was owned by the Korman family. They were an original member of the Frankford-Quaker Co-op which was how Shop N Bag started out. Other past members of this group are George Zallie, Stan Ravitz, Karl Eickhoff, Lenny Brown, all of whom, and others, eventually became ShopRite/Wakefern members.

    The Kormans sold most of their stores to Wetterau in the 80's. Wetterau was eventually sold to SuperValu. The Brigantine store stayed a Shop N Bag due to lease issues. Larry Korman eventually passed away and his son Lee took over. Lee tragically died in a private plane accident. It was run for a few years by longtime employees on behalf of the estate.

    Fleming went bankrupt and the landlord played hardball with the lease. The store switched banners to SuperValu to help resolve some of these issues. The plan seemed to have been to facilitate a sale to Acme, which eventually happened. Brigantine was the only major South Jersey (South of LBI) shore town without an Acme.

    This store was originally an independent operation that did well for many years. Its demise was the result of tragic circumstances, both personal (untimely death) and corporate (Fleming's demise). Please give props to the independents where due.

    The dollar store was originally a drug store (Thrift Drug, I believe) that moved elsewhere in the center. The landlord wanted to push the supermarket to take over the space, the independent operator did not want to. maybe, eventually, Acme will be able to capture that space.

    That's the story.

  8. Wow, 80,000 visitors!! My Flickr photostream hasn't even hit 25,000. I must say, you've put a lot of hard work and effort into this blog over the past two years, and hopefully more people will ''take a new look at Acme'' via this blog. Congratulations!

  9. The Genuardi's in Chalfont PA also has a "flat" facade just like this Acme. Sadly I can't find it anymore but in recent years I saw an old-looking web page run by the construction company that built both the Genuardi's in Chalfont and Lansdale (now closed). There were photos of the Chalfont store from when it opened in 1988, when it had Genuardi's long-gone old logo and there was a CVS next to it (which moved across the street in 2003). The one in Lansdale was from 1990 and also had the old logo, but the drugstore anchor next to it was a Thrift Drug (later Eckerd and now Rite Aid) instead of CVS. I find it a miracle that store is still open because Rite Aid is not doing too well right now, and that store is a classic but is relatively very outdated. When the similar Genuardi's in Glen Mills PA closed a year ago (at the same time as Lansdale), the identical Rite Aid next door closed with it. Judging by the center marquee and color scheme, I suspect the Rite Aid in Brigantine was an early New Jersey Eckerd from long before they bought Thrift Drug and entered PA.

  10. Also I meant to say there were also photos of the similar Giunta's Thriftway in Coatesville PA. This store opened in 1991 also with a CVS next to it. The West Chester Acme which didn't last and closed in early 2009 (one of the first posts on this blog was about it) opened right before Giunta's closed. CVS moved their store to the parking lot of that center when it opened. Bad idea for Acme to build there because they couldn't stop Giant from knocking down the Giunta's and old CVS soon after.

  11. Living in Brig, this Sop N' Bag(the H was burned out for years)/Brigantine Market/Acme is our lifeblood. The store had been left to decline for years... I heard at some point Shop N' Bag didn't want to be associated with the store anymore, hence the name change. Acme seriously improved the store without hiking the prices. My only gripe was the closing of the western entrance (for the customer service area)... that, IMHO, was stupid and wasteful.

    I see you like aerial historic photos... but along the shore, only seems to have 1970 then 1995. Google for Atlantic County GIS and click on the map of Atlantic County... and choose Atlantic County IMS... and you will get a web app that gives you access to lots more aerial photosets... like 1977 and 1983. In this case, 1977 and 1983 still show a vacant marsh. But while the program is somewhat complicated, it is packed with info. Remember to click off "Municipality Boundary" to see the aerials. Other counties on the map have similar tools.

  12. I was told this store was built to be a SuperFresh(sounds logical since many beach towns have a SuperFresh or A&P)that never came to fruition. The store was divided in to a Shop and Bag 2/3rds and a Family Dollar 1/3rd. Shop and Bag pulled out and became the Brigantine Super Market. The store did little business with year' round locals. Acme took it over and redid the store. I heard that Acme wants the Family Dollar space to expand but Family Dollar is very profitable there has a LONG lease and won't relocate to another part of the same shopping center.