Friday, October 28, 2011

Former Acme revisited, Wilkes-Barre PA

Classic pictures of
Wilkes-Barre stores now included!

Location: 372 South Main Street, Wilkes Barre PA

Present day photos courtesy of Ross K.

Acme opened here in the Penn Plaza back in September 1966. Although not obvious from the front, this store began it's life as a pitched-roof model which was expanded and updated most likely in the 70's. This location made it's debut on the blog as part of the "Wyoming Valley Tour" which was done back in the early days of the blog. Last week, we recently visited the demolition of the Plains Acme which was part of the tour as well. 

We've headed back to this particualr location thanks to Ross K, who is a new contributor to the blog. He visited the store this past summer and photographed it more extensively for the blog. His coverage includes photos of the interior which are extremely fascinating. Despite the fact that this location has been 3 different retailers since the Acme vacated the space, the interior is has changed only slightly with much of Acme's decor items left behind. This Wilkes Barre location, along with 44 other Acmes in Northern Pennsylvania and New York, was sold to Penn Traffic back in 1995. Many of the stores, including this one, were converted to Bi-Lo. 

Classic photo of the Acme still open! Thanks to Mike for sending them in! The red oval logo looking great here as a separate sign mounted to the facade as opposed to the more commonly seen panel inserted into the old fish-eye sign frame. 

Update 10.29.11: As we see here, this Acme was converted to an Insalaco's, not a Bi-Lo as reported above. Both banners were part of the Penn Traffic company which bought these locations. Many NEPA Acme's were converted to Bi-Lo's. 

Update 10.31.11: Turns out this former Acme sported both the Insalaco's and Bi-Lo banners. Ross K provided a link in the comments section of the store as a Bi-Lo. Click here to have a look. 

Back to the original post... 

This side of the store was the original Produce aisle. Delivery doors were most likely here on the front of the store, although we have seen them along the side as well. Check out this pictures of Parkesburg for an example. 

The store's original windows remain intact. As noted in many previous posts, the window covers seen here were installed often during remodels to increase sales floor space.  

This store received a small addition to the left side. We'll have a better look at it in the aerial iamges. The exit area here would have been the store's original entrance and exit as they both shared the same vestibule in the 50's and 60's stores. As Acme moved into the 70's the entrance and exits were spilt to two different areas. The entrance here, to the left, would have lead right into Produce. Walking along the entire front of the store to get to Produce was now a thing of the past.

Awning still 100% intact! You can see the middle section there as it dips down. This awning would have been identical to the one at the Clayton store. 

Magic carpets in the vestibule. The triangle section seen often in Acmes where carts need to make a turn. In we go...

Remnants of the Checkerboard Arch decor! The Produce aisle would have been located to the right under the lower section of the ceiling. Customer Service all the way to the front right before the windows start. Pitched-roof disguised by a drop ceiling. 

Seafood and the Deli would have been located to the right side of this picture, which is the rear corner of the store. This angled corner so common in the 33M styled stores. Check out this shot of a former Acme in Philly which will give you a good idea of how this area looked in the 80's. 

Deli here along the left wall with the Meat Department extending across the back of the store.

The checkboard arch trim all painted white along with the wall. You can check out both the Middlesex store and Manasquan store for the Checkerboard Arch decor. The last two stores still open to have it as far as I know. Always on the hunt for others but I regretably believe they are the last. 

Wow! Blue light boxes remain over what would have been the Frozen Food department. They would have been located over the check outs as well but have been removed. Produce would have had green light boxes but they are clearly gone as well. 

Gotta say, they still look sharp here. The front corner was home to the Bakery.

The in-store Bakery Departments didn't get the arch treatment or the checkerboard print. You can take a look at the Bakery in Middlesex to see the decor that would have been here. 

Heading over to the front end...

Thank you for shopping ACME... but ACME is gone. You can see a similar treatment at the Manasquan store. Interesting that the the 3 former retailers in this location kept those words on the wall.  

And now to the back of the store.... staircase added at some point. Possibly due to fire regulations. Notice the beam above the compressor door is missing. You can see it still in place at the Princeton Junction store. 

We see the rear of the addition here, taller than the left side of the original building. 

The other side of the store appears to have had a small addition affecting only back room space. 

Side shot.

The original Acme parking lot sign has been through a lot of changes of the years but is still standing.

This shopping center is in the planning stages of a full make over. Property owners have been looking for a grocery store to move into the center and the have finally found one... Sav-a-lot! It will not be moving into Acme's old space. The Salvation Army is staying put. The discount grocer will occupy other space in the center. You can read more about it at by clicking here. 

Up for some aerials of the store. Historic aerials are not available for this area which is often the case for for the Acmes of Pennsylvania. 

Aerial images appear to have been taken before post furniture store and pre-Salvation Army. You can see a small addition was  added to the left side of the store allowing a switch from the original 50's/60's layout to the 33M layout seen in the interior picures. While there wasn't enough room to double the size of the store, which was commonly done to expanded pitched-rood stores, it does seem there was enough space for a larger addition that was done here.

Hard to know for sure if any additional space was added to the right side. Looks as though the delivery bays may have been added.  

Now over to Wilkes-Bare other former pitched-roof Acme which is less than 2 miles away. This location was expanded to nearly double it's original size much like the Princeton Junction store. 

Location: 950 Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd (Route 309
Wilkes Barre, PA

Update 10.29.11: Beautiful classic photo of the Route 309 store! As mentioned in the comments section, this store had the 80's remodel until it's final days. The sign here is the panel style that was most likely installed in the former fish-eye sign frame. Judging from the signage, it appears that this store received it's addition and new facade sometime in the 70's or early 80's, while the Penn Plaza store was expanded during the 80's remodel. Interesting that the smaller store of the two stores received a remodel in the 90's. 

Image courtesy of Wyoming Valley Blog

A quick check on Google Maps and I discover the old Acme beginning it's transformation into new retail spaces. 

Much better shots sent in by Mike of the Route 309 store being deconstructed. A fascinating look at how these pitched-roof stores were expanded and disguised. 

Image courtesy of Wyoming Valley Blog

This image was included in the original post and shows what the former Acme has become. 

Back in the day there was only a 5 minute travel time between these 2 Acmes. Now Wilkes Barre has none.


  1. Wow! This is impressive. I would expected the decor to be at least 80's remodel vintage. What's the next big post? Can you please do the Randolph, NJ location? I've been waiting for that store to show up here forever!

  2. Several Northern PA stores were remodeled just s few years before Acme sold them off. Ross K mentioned that the Pittstown store had the Checkerboard Arch decor as well. It may still have remnants today after about 3 grocers have been in the space.

    Thanks for the request! I do have Randolph/Mount Freedom photographed, although not extensively enough for a big post. If I can get back out there in the next week or two I will grant your request.

  3. Since I'm really 13, my mom took me to the Randolph Kmart a couple of weekends ago. (It still has a Little Caesars inside!!!!) I also printed directions to the Mt. Freedom Acme, but my mom vetoed those plans, so I've been counting on Acme Style to provide me a tour! Also, you might want to check out the Hackettstown/Mansfield NJ are (where I live), as it's got former Acmes and Grand Unions, a cramped ShopRite, and another NJ Weis.

  4. I'm also a little surprised that some northeast PA stores got the checkerboard arch decor. I was under the impression all those stores sold to Penn Traffic were in horrible condition so I'm guessing a few did well enough to justify an investment (even though the checkerboard arch decor didn't change much aside from wall graphics and altered lighting.) Also interesting is how Acme built two stores so close to each other. The aerial photo shows the two separated by a small neighborhood. Hard to imagine people on one side wouldn't have bothered driving to the store on the other... and both seemed to coexist until Acme pulled out of the area.

  5. Its not as uncommon as you would think. Acme did it in places like Dover, Saulisbury, Easton Md, and New Castle Delaware. Neighborhood storeswere inj style and it kept competitors from moving in and eating their lunch. Gerry

  6. Hi, Again! On the same subject Acme had two stores in the same shopping centerin the Merchandise Mart in Wilmington De on the Gov Printz Highway in the 60!s and early 70!s. One small and one large. Both full service. Just to keep a competitor out. Gerry

  7. Great post!

    Does anyone know if the Route 309/Blackman Plaza store also had the checkerboard arch interior also? I have an ad with a picture of that store re-opening on Jan. 31, 1988, which would mean it at least got the 80's remodel. I'm intrigued to know what other NEPA stores got this treatment. The former Acme in Pittston (Quinn's now) still has checkerboard arch remnants, which they incorperated into their current decor. Up until Bruno's went out of business there in 2008, they still had the untouched checkerboard arch interior from when Acme closed in 1994. In a way, Bruno's was still Acme, but without the Acme signage.

    I think the checkerboard arch remodels were a last ditch effort to save NEPA's strongest stores, but it was an effort that ultamately failed with Wegman's, Price Chopper, and Wal-Mart building new, larger, and more modern stores throughout the region at the time.

    One day I'd like to see Acme return to NEPA to give Wegman's, Price Chopper, and Wal-Mart a run for their money. They were in Wilkes-Barre for years, and even outlasted A&P. But unfortunately, I think there's a better chance of a blizzard happening in Miami than a brand new Acme opening in NEPA anytime soon.

  8. The Route 309 store didn't get the Checkerboard remodel ... it had the '80s remodel until it's end ... only a few stores got the checkerboard remodel in NEPA ... The Penn Plaza store, the Pittston store, and the store in the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming are the only three I can remember ... the rest either had the 80s remodel or were still the colonial type ...

  9. Berwick and Carbondale might have got the checkerboard remodel also ... since they both got exterior remodels that included the block letters right before the end ... but I wasn't in either one enough to recall ... Though they were close geographically, the Penn Plaza and the Blackman Plaza stores served sections of people, I imagine ... the Penn Plaza store was more inner city Wilkes-Barre (such as it is) ... and if you went to the Blackman Plaza store you could avoid actually going into the city ... at it's end, I think the Penn Plaza store was more of a "convenience store" where people who worked in the offices in Downtown Wilkes-Barre would stop on the way home to pick things up, but you almost never saw anyone in there with a cart full, doing a whole grocery order ...

  10. While we're on the topic of NEPA-area stores...does anyone know when the Shavertown Acme closed?

  11. As for carbondale it did have the checkerboard arch decor at one time. it was remodeled a few years ago. it still has the coolers from the acme days though. another store in the area with the checkerboard is honesdale store. everything is still intact from the acme days. weis hasnt changed much about the store since they took it over!

  12. The Shavertown Acme became an Insalaco's with the sale in 1995, then a BiLo, and then closed in August of 1998. The Thomas' Family Market that currently is still there opened in November of 1998.

  13. Here's the story about the Shavertown Store, from The Times Leader newspaper, August 14, 1998: (in case anyone is interested ... lol)


    KINGSTON TWP.- BiLo Foods won't be out of the Back Mountain Shopping Center until the end of the month, but a new market already has been signed to take its place. Thomas' Family Market plans to open its second location at the soon-to-be-vacant BiLo space on state Route 309 in November, according to Chris Evans, co-owner of Thomas'.
    BiLo's parent company, Penn Traffic, announced earlier this week it planned to close its Shavertown store because it could not work out a lease with the plaza's owner, Allen Reishtein.
    Penn Traffic also announced plans last week to close four other stores throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, including stores in the West Side Mall in Edwardsville and the Valmont Plaza in West Hazleton, because of slow sales.
    In a phone interview Thursday, Evans, a graduate of Dallas High School, said he is excited to open a store in his hometown. "We know the Back Mountain is growing and needs a store that focuses on perishables."
    Evans said he and his partners, Pam Evans and Thomas Baseski, plan to expand the Shavertown store to include bakery and floral departments. He said groceries for the store will be bought from Associated Wholesalers, Inc., of Robesonia, Pa.
    Associated Wholesalers supplies products for many ShureSave stores locally, including Fetch's Food Store.
    Evans, who previously worked as a district manager for Penn Traffic, also hopes to hire many of the BiLo employees who will lose their jobs when the Shavertown store closes.
    Thomas' will continue to operate its store at 550 Washington Ave. in Larksville.
    No plans have announced for other BiLo stores scheduled to close at the end of the month.
    Matt Harding, of Levin Management, which operates the West Side Mall, said he hopes to find another grocery store to replace BiLo at the end of the month. The Kingston Twp. store was originally an Acme Supermarket, until it was sold to Penn Traffic along with 44 other Acme stores in 1995.

  14. Wait a minute... how could the Pittston (not to be confused with Pottstown) store have closed in 1994? Because it had the current Acme logo in the end. Unless Acme first used that logo as a "test" logo in the year 1990 like I think I might have heard, I don't know how that was possible. The strangest thing to me is that Acme didn't build more 33M/Super Saver stores in the Philly area. They were all out in the rural areas.

  15. The Penn Plaza store did eventually become a Bi-Lo. It must have been after Penn Traffic did away with the Insalaco's banner around 1997 or so. I remember driving by it a few times while it was Bi-Lo, which closed sometime in the early 2000's (around 2004-2005 if I had to guess), but never was in it. Here's a picture of the Penn Plaza store during its Bi-Lo days:

  16. Don't forget the former Acme at the Wyoming Valley Mall. It was already closed when I moved to NEPA back in 1990.

  17. The Scranton Acme located in the Greenridge section of the city, had the 70s colonial decor when it was closed by Penn Traffic in the early/mid 90s.

  18. Weis driver, Are you sure that Carbondale had the checkerboard decor? I was almost certain that the store last had the 80s decor. I would also be very surprised if that store had anything left from the Acme days on the sales floor. Insalacos completely gutted and expanded the store right after they bought it. It was actually closed for sometime during construction. The Weis that is there now is much larger than the Acme ever was and the floorplan is reversed. Produce on the left and dairy on the right. In the Acme days, it was produce on the right and dairy on the left. I think that as an acme it was ~11 aisles and 25000 sq ft. Now it is probably around 45000 sqft.

    Does anybody have pictures of the Carbondale store as an Acme?

  19. Most of the Maryland Acme stores are gone now. Fallston was closed earlier this year. Only the Kent Island store remains, if memory serves.

  20. I just stumbled upon an amazing find! Here’s a link to a photo of the Penn Plaza Acme from June 1972 (in all of its original pitched roof/fish eye sign glory), during the cleanup process after the flooding of Hurricane Agnes, which happened 40 years ago today. I believe I sent in a photo last summer that I found in an Agnes book that showed the water all the way up to the top of the canopy, so that’s a lot of water that was in that store! Now that I’m back in NEPA, I have to find the time to head back down to Penn Plaza and see what the place looks like now with the new front and Save-A-Lot next door. Here’s the link to the photo: (scroll down to the top of page 7). I think this link is available only for another week though, so make sure to take a print screen of the photo to save a copy!

  21. Andrew 7239
    The Carbondale Acme did get the big checkerboard update around 1993, including a new exterior and block-style ACME sinage. It was sold with the rest of the NEPA stores in 1995. The interior ceilings were dropped a few feet when the store was drastically renovated by Penn Traffic in 1996. The Acme coolers were removed during that renovation. The store never closed during its renovation. They built the "new" store expansion, complete with produce, floral, bakery, deli, meats, a new front-end area and about 5 grocery aisles. When the new side was ready, they literally opened it and covered over the rest of the old entry doors.