Friday, January 27, 2012

Acme — Flourtown, PA

Location: 1640 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, PA

Welcome to the Flourtown Acme, a location I keep coming back to this one when I'm searching for out-of-the-ordinary Acmes. While this store is not wildly unusual, the foot print of the building left me with plenty of questions regarding the layout as well as the evolution of the building over the years. Below is a satellite image to give you an overview of the building and the surrounding property...

What is technically the front of the store, as it faces out to Bethlehem Pike, is actually the side. From the road the store looks to be particularly small. As you can see in the satellite image, the building stretches a good distance to the rear. The left side of the building is the front-end of the interior.

Judging from the exterior, one could easily assume that Acme moved into a preexisting building as it's characteristics are not usual for an Acme. As it turns out, Acme did build this store... directly behind a 50's model that stood in the front parking lot. We'll see evidence of that in the historic aerial images down below. The original store opened in November 1957. Unfortunately, we won't be able to pinpoint a year... or decade for the that matter... when the switch to the new store was made. No historic views are available between the old store in 1971 and the new store in 2002.  

Let's head inside...

Above is an approximate layout of the store. The interior shots below might be a little disorienting without seeing the general layout first. Note that Customer Service faces the exit lane of the store. There is no access to it from the side facing the grocery aisles. 

The store appears to be freshly remodeled with the brown version of the Premium Fresh and Healthy package. There are some nice touches here which make this store seem nicer than others I've been in with this same remodel. The entrance, just to the right of where I am standing, leads customers straight into Produce. The Bakery and Deli are to the left.  

Looking towards the front corner. The vestibule just beyond the far wall. There are a few short windows running along the produce cases to the left which face out to Bethlehem Pike. 

The "Grand Aisle" or "Marketplace" area was packed with merchandise. No space is left under utilized. This was just a few weeks before the holidays so an abundance of selection is to be expected. The rest of the store was spacious and clutter free.

Looking down the back aisle, around the corner from the Deli. About half of the back wall is used for frozen food cases. Most of which are for frozen meats. The store does have frozen food aisles so I'm not sure what was in all of these cases back here. Didn't think to take a look. Milk is located along the far wall. 

First grocery aisle is "Shop the World". Looking towards the front-end. I don't recall seeing a designated "Wild Harvest" section at this store. 

Front-end with registers to the left. Expansive space between checkouts and the grocery aisle.

It appears this location received new flooring with the latest remodel. This is the first time I've seen a tile pattern with the PF&H remodel. The deluxe version of remodel included a neutral floor which you can see at the Feasterville store. Other stores have kept their flooring from previous remodels. 

Not sure why these wireless routers wind up right in the middle of department signage. There's one right next to the dairy sign as well.  

The last few aisles are split leaving a center aisle. 

Another router. 

An impressive 17 aisles. I wouldn't have guessed it had that many. I was prepared to peg this location as a "small" Acme but it as big as some of the new stores the company built in the 2000's. 

Would love to know how the interior of the store evolved of the years. Reviews I've seen online of the store mention that the layout has recenttly changed, apparently more than once, leaving some customers frustrated with all the changes. Having never been to the store before, I have to say it is well laid out, not to mention exceptionally clean. This Acme is as ready as it ever will be to take on new competition coming soon. (Details below)

Interesting to see 3D lettering on the shopping center sign. 

And now for that new competition. A nearby Genuardi's is one of the locations purchased by Giant. 

An abandoned Kmart sits at the rear of the shopping center. That building is closer in size to the store Giant operates. The Genuardi's stores that Giant is taking over in the area are closer in size to the stores Giant has been abandoning in other markets for huge replacement stores. 

Food Fair/ Genuardi's - Flourtown
Photo courtesy of JoshAustin

Here's a shot of the store from ground level. Be sure to click on the photo to jump over to Josh's photostream on flickr. Interesting read there on the history of this location. 

Kmart - Flourtown
Photo courtesy of JoshAustin

Ground level shot of the abandoned Kmart. Closed in 2003. Click on the photo for an interesting read on this store as well. Unusual to see a Kmart with so many windows remaining along the front. They were almost always covered over during the remodels of the late 80's/early90's. 

And now to head back in time...

We see the roof has recently been painted white to reflect sunlight and heat. A popular community pool just behind the Acme. 



Back to 1971 where we see the original store still standing. Looks like the new store was built just feet away from the rear of the old one. Did the new store open the minute the old one closed? Would have left for limited parking for the grand opening. Perhaps that's why there is such a large parking area all the way to the rear of the new store. 






  1. I'm guessing at this point the abandoned Kmart in Flourtown is not going to be a Home Depot. So once Giant takes over the Flourtown Genuardi I think it will just be a mater of time before they move into the Kmart building. If Home Depot controls the lease, but has decided that they don't want the location then I don't see why they would care if a supermarket went in there. As long as Lowes doesn't get it I think Home Depot would be happy.

    1. The old Kmart building and the small stores in between the current Giant (former Genuardi's) and the Kmart have all been torn down and Giant is building a new, much larger store that, according to a sign inside the current store, is supposed to open in late 2013.

  2. The store's lastest major configuration happened sometime in the early 2000's.The main entrance orginally was in the front of the building facing Bethlehem Pike with windows facing out as well the front end registers like a typical 33m of the 1970's/1980's era. With the recent configuration,the front end and main entrance was moved to the side as well as major shifts of the perishable departments.

  3. Interesting! I was going to speculate that in the post but I've done that with other stores and have been wrong. Has the building ever been added onto since it was first built? With the aisles set up the other way they would have been absurdly long if they extended from the front to the back.

  4. I think that it was either built or had a complete remodel in the 90's

  5. Well, the entrance is identical to the Upper Darby PA store which was built in 1963 as a pitched-roof, then became a Super Saver in 1977, but was heavily expanded and remodeled in 1995, then given Sav-on signage in 2005. You can't even tell it really is a pitched-roof anymore.

  6. I meant to say the Upper Darby store replaced two circa 1946 Acmes. One is across the street and is a CVS now (not sure what else it was in between), and the other a mile away is a Do it Best hardware store. This second one is truly a gem. There still are clearly Acme features left over even though they replaced the store almost FIFTY years ago! When the store converted from Ace Hardware to Do it Best in 2004, the 40's Acme canopy sign was preserved, just re-used for the second time.

    Ironically, the Ace Hardware in Drexel Hill (also part of Upper Darby) converted to that brand from True Value in 2001. This store is across the parking lot from an independent grocery store called "Drexeline" which was a 50's Acme that closed in 1979. Drexeline has a huge selection of beer which is normally forbidden in Pennsylvania, but this law is circumvented by Drexeline's cafe. The local chain "The Fresh Grocer" started with Drexeline, but most of the new stores they opened in the city in the past few years crashed and burned. They used to be part of the "Great Valu" franchise which is used by "independent" grocers mostly in the South. The old Food Fair/Pantry Pride/Acme in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philly was a Great Valu until two years ago when it closed. The Fresh Grocer had another store in Upper Darby, but it closed in the past year. Save-A-Lot moved into both of these because Supervalu is the owner of that chain and the supplier of Great Valu and The Fresh Grocer. This is exactly what most of us DON'T want to see happen to Acme. Apparently a Great Valu in Wilmington DE was bullied into closing by the Supervalu leadership, who brought Save-A-Lot in because it made the rent cheaper.

  7. There's at least one other Great Valu store in Acme's trading area--Risoldi's in Mercerville NJ, which competes to some degree with the Hamilton Square Acme.

  8. I don't think The Fresh Grocer/Great Valu really competes with Acme because the smaller chains are mostly focused on lower income areas that Acme has closed in. What seems weird is how Upper Darby itself has a really nice Acme, but Drexel Hill, the richer part of the township, is stuck with Drexeline... which really doesn't have anything good to offer except beer which most grocery stores in PA can't sell. If Drexeline fails, I highly suspect CVS will move into the spot because so many ancient Acmes became CVS. There is an older CVS next door which I imagine is dying to move.

  9. Summer of '09 was the last remodel. Checklanes were moves forward and customer service in the front was removed. New entrance was also cu into side of building. That was the last major reno of an Acme I know of until the ongoing Bryn Mawr rebuild.

  10. The original 50s store was replaced in 1978 by a store in back, the building that's there today. Both of these stores physically fronted on Bethlehem Pike. In 1999-2000 the store was remodeled, in which the entire layout was rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and the left side became the front of today. After the 2009 remodel, another occurred in 2014 to give the Acme a beer garden at the front where the CS desk used to be, comparable in selection to the one in the new Giant up the pike.
    The diagonal parking area was the former Plymouth Branch of the Reading Railroad, abandoned in the late 70s and the right of way there acquired by Acme for the 1999 expansion.