Friday, November 30, 2012

Acme — King of Prussia, PA

Location: 320 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia PA

After all these years, I have finally made my triumphant return to the King of Prussia store! This store been on my list ever since I started Acme Style back in 2009. My very first visit here happened completely by accident sometime in the mid-90's. At that point it had been a good 5 years since I had worked for Acme and I was pretty much out of the loop as to what was happening with the company. The last new store I had seen was the Dupont Highway location in Dover, Delaware back in the early 90's. An identical model to the Hockessin store seen here. Now sporting the block letter logo, these stores started out with the red-oval logo up on that slab above the greenhouse styled vestibule. They were built with the 80's Remodel decor but were a big jump forward in size and exterior design.

A few years after visiting the Dover store I would stumble upon the King of Prussia location. I had made the trip to the Delkalb Plaza for the Tower Records which once existed there. Upon pulling into the center, I could not believe my eyes... the biggest Acme I had ever seen! CD shopping was gonna have to wait. I had to get into the Acme immediately. The new block letter logo was on front, in red, which I had seen at some point a few years earlier on a Checkerboard Arch remodeled store but not yet as separatly mounted letters. I assumed the interior here would have the Checkerboard Arch decor as well. To my surprise, the interior was a completely new... the 90's Red/White/Blue package! I was blown away at the time. A completely new look for Acme from floor to ceiling, including custom designed aisle markers and check-out stand lights! It was a lot to take in. I may have been hyperventilating. I remember exploring the entire store, going over to Tower and then coming back for some more Acme time. I would continue to come to this shopping center a couple of times of year for the rest to the 90's. Always spending some quality time in the Acme. It was thrilling to see such a huge, clean store with all the bells and whistles of the time.

Since I've started Acme Style, I've heard from that this Acme isn't what it used to be. Which ones are at this point? Maybe that's why I waited so long to return. Couldn't bare to see another old favorite fading into oblivion. I would say that this was once among Acme's most successful stores. It was always extremely busy when I was there. The extensive Albertson's remodel in the early 2000's would indicate that things were still going strong a decade ago. Tough competition has moved into the area in just the past few years... Walmart and a new Wegmans on one side and a Giant converted Genuardi's and new Bottom Dollar on the other. The Wegmans/Walmart combo near the King of Prussia mall has undoubtedly dealt a series blow to this once mighty store.

Let's head inside to take a look around...

The decor package here is the higher-end version of the Industrial Circus. The signage uses a cursive font and copper and wood accents rather than corrugated steel. I believe this version came towards the end of the I.C.'s lifespan. It's not seen in nearly as many stores as the original decor package.

The remodel here was quite extensive. It's the first 90's store I've seen with the "Grand Aisle" format. Produce was moved out of it's alcove in the front corner and spread across the right side of the store killing off an aisle or two in the process.

The Reading Center is just to the right of the entrance, occupying a small portion for the former Produce alcove. Magazines are dying off about as quickly as Acmes these days. I've noticed these sections getting downsized in other grocery stores.

The Cheese Shoppe Boulevard just beyond the Reading Center. Never could figure out why they started renaming departments as if they were streets. A bit too much of a mouthful. Produce cases lined this wall prior to the remodel.

The Deli now occupies the former Produce Department. Windows to the outside were along that back wall. While outside, I completely forgot to turn the corner to get a picture of what's left of them.

The Bakery remains in its original spot but appears to be expanded slightly into the former Meat Department.

Have to say, Acme is running some of the nicest Bakery Departments of any chain these days. The variety far exceeds stores like A&P, Stop & Shop and ShopRite. The ShopRites near me don't even offer fresh baked wheat or multigrain bread. The do have plenty of the crappiest white bread you can find.

Grocery aisles to the left, Bakery over to the right, with the Produce Department in between. Wild Harvest is located in an odd spot to the rear of Produce. The first time I was here, the health food department was the along the first aisle using shorter shelving to draw attention. It was the first time I had seen a desginated health food section in a traditional gorcery store. There actually have been times in Acme's history when they've been ahead of the curve!

Very few stores seems to have gotten the updated Wild Harvest signage. You can see it here in the abandoned Cinnaminson store.

A center aisle no longer cuts through the entire store.

Former Deli and Seafood Deparments are now Meat and Seafood.

Fresh Meats along the back wall instead of in the rear corner beyond the Bakery.

Premium Fresh and Healthy aisle and category makers in the nearly impossible to read green and white combo.

Fresh Deli appears to have been packaged deli goods which has since morphed into dairy products.

Center aisle looking over towards Produce.

Florist moved from the front corner into the aisles. This is commonly the location for floral in "Grand Aisle" formatted stores.

Interesting twist here... Frozen Foods have been moved from the center of the store all the way over to the last aisles. Frozen cases even take up wall space along the Dairy wall. Back in the mid 90's this final aisle had a big selection of small household appliances. There was also a "Max Pac" (I can never remember if that's the right name) department in the back, offering selections that would be more commonly found at club stores like. Hood lights hung from the ceiling in this section. They're still hanging in Willingboro. Click here to see.

The Pharmacy was relocated from the front of the store to the the side wall where the Floral Department was originally located.

"Gotta love" that Acme gave up on those ads in the checkout stand lights!

WHOA! What happened here?? Whoever put these letters up didn't have a clue as to what they were doing. Half of the letters are crooked! They were supposed to mounted with a tilt, not straight up and down. And someone decided the "P" in Prussia needed to be lower case. The whole thing is a disaster. Compare this set-up to the one done correctly at the other entrance...

We'll head over to the former Genuardi's down below.

Tower Records was located in the strip in the lower left corner.

Of course trees are blocking our view of the former Produce windows!

Now for a quick look at the new Giant...

You think Acme is dead you should see this place! I'm stunned at how few people I've seen at the 3 Giants/Genuardi's I've been too. The one Weis/Genuardi's I've been in was even deader!

Felt the need to take some pics here even though we've seen a similar Giant in Feasterville. That store was upgraded from Genuardi's old decor package while this store was upgraded from Safeway's "Lifestyle" remodel. The hardwood floors you see here are from that remodel.

These back lit letters are all the rage now in grocery store design.

Fascinating sculpture signage above Health and Beauty.

Can't help but wonder if Giant will pull the plug on some of these stores.

Now back to Acme...

The Acme used to be located at the King of Prussia Mall, opening with the center in 1963. In the early 90's the mall underwent a massive expansion and transformation. I had the unfortunate luck of visiting the mall when construction was underway. How they were letting people in the place without hard hats on was beyond me. My shopping trip was cut short since the mall was a complete disaster at the time. I'm not sure when the Acme closed there. There may have been a few years where there was no Acme in King of Prussia but can't say for sure. Let's take a look at the original store...

**The Original King of Prussia Acme**

Photo courtesy of Pleasant Family Shopping

Even in black and white, the fish-eye logo sign is a beautiful, beautiful site. Check out the entrance/exit doors on both sides of the store! Nice stone work around the doors too. The upper windows appear to have been opaque. (Click on photo for a much larger view) All around, a very unique pitched-roof model. Thanks to Dave over at Pleasant Family Shopping for use of this incredible picture.

Thanks to these old satellite images, we can see exactly where the Acme was located. The octagon building started out as an amphitheater but became home to a Wannamakers in 1965 

Expansion to the rear of the mall just 2 years later. 


The pitched-roof Acme long gone by 2002. 

Walmart and Wegmans have built new stores on the west side of the mall. The Wegmans is still under construction in this image. It opened in May of this year.

Spirit Halloween store. Fun for shopping and usually an indication that the shopping center isn't doing too great. On the plus side, Acme was significantly busier than the Giant when I visited each store on a Saturday afternoon. And the newly opened Bottom Dollar just down the street has some dreadful reviews on yelp.

So much potential here for this store to remain in business. It's unfortunate that SuperValu is not in a position to make Acme more competitive. The crushing debt the company currently has is preventing them from lowering prices. Acme is essentially a prisoner of this failing company. The only option for Acme to be saved is for someone to buy SuperValu and turn things around. Cerberus Capital was recently showing interest but it appears now that a deal may not happen. Let's keep our fingers crossed that something happens soon.


  1. The new Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover, and Stop & Shop stores and remodels have that decor.

  2. I've been waiting for over 3 years for you to cover this location. This is my hometown store. For 11 years, I lived literally across the street from it. I now live about a mile away. Unfortunately, this store is no longer 24 hours.

    I can also tell you the last major remodel was Spring of 2007. Many things in the store changed location then, including floral.

    I like this store, but I am worried about it's future. In addition to the competition you mentioned already, a Target with P'fresh is being built one block north of this store, on 202. Target will build a brand new, 2 level store in the place of the former Marshall's and Fortunoff.

    Across the street at the former Petco site, Wawa is building a location with gasoline, and a Chik-Fil-A will be next to it.

    1. Was the decor changed from the 90's Red/White/Blue to the Industrial Circus in 2007? I would have thought this happened years earlier since the Albertson's Marketplace package was being used in the mid 2000's.

    2. I have to be honest, I am not an expert on decor packages, especially before you created this website. If I had to venture a guess...I'd say there was the 1992 decor package when this store opened, and maybe a 99/2000 decor package, and then the current 2007 look. I'll ask a few employees I know and report back to you.

      I *can* tell you for a fact that the 2007 remodel was a serious remodel. Massive amounts of the store were closed off and relocated before the store was finished. It was a disaster. It largely contributed to me visiting the store less often. Example, if I didn't know where bottled water was, and couldn't find it easily, I would buy bottled water somewhere else. Etc, etc, etc.

    3. They must have kept the decor package that was there when they rearranged the whole store in 2007. They did this at the Tunnersville store as well. The Industrial Circus decor package was long retired by then.

      Do you know it the pitched-roof store at the mall stayed open until the new store opened? I'm thinking it didn't, but not sure. I'm surprised that the new store opened in '92. Must have been one of the first "90's" stores.

    4. I didn't live here in 1992, but I think the old store stayed open until then. Demolition of the "outdoor" sections of the KOP Plaza started around 1992-1993. The entire enclosed section didn't open until 1996. Newspaper archives I've read said ACME specifically relocated because of this. The owner of the mall built DeKalb Plaza, the shopping center which houses the current ACME. You can try to google news archives for this stuff, it was all in the Philly Inquirer.

      As for the decor package, I am going to try to ask some people. To be 100% honest, I don't recall any other remodels between 1999-2007. So who knows.

    5. Answering both questions as a reader of the Trumpeter.

      KOP's renovation did indeed occur in 2007, and yes, it looks like they got Industrial Circus at that time.

      There's one important thing that people fail to realize. Under Albertsons, there were no decor "eras". Stores were opening with DIFFERENT DECOR PACKAGES AT THE SAME TIME!

      The rotation seemed to include IC and Albertsons Marketplace (or Jewel Interior as some call it), and I'm pretty sure Awnings and even the Chalkboard Market/Santa Rosa interior were still in rotation.

      The rotation continued at least for the first two or so years of Supervalu, even as Premium Fresh and Healthy was introduced. Obviously it stopped in the last few years, as I haven't seen a non-PFH store remodel/opening in the Trumpeter. Of course, I haven't seen a store remodel/opening in the Trumpeter period...

  3. Do you know the address of the old Acme store that was in Dover, DE? At one time (pre-SuperValu) Shoppers Food Warehouse had a store in Dover and I believe it may have been in the old Acme building. Shoppers used to have pictures of their stores on their web site and that store design of the Acme looks really familiar.

    1. The address I have for the former Dover store is 15 South Dupont/Rt 13. Looks like that building is now subdivided into smaller stores. I can't pinpoint any Acme characteristic in the satellite views.

    2. I think they razed the 33m model near the old blue hen mall in 1994 or 1995 in dover de to build a another one for the kent county main offices. The classic a flame store on governers ave is now home to a lots of business they are replaced in 1990 with a store near the dover downs.

  4. Giant will almost never close a store (unless they plant a larger one nearby). Doing so would be (con-)ceding market share to their competitors...something they're not keen on doing.

  5. Well, I'm trying to talk my neighbor into allowing his 9 year old daughter to oversee Keith Wyche's duties as president of Acme Markets. Her water-ice stand had a 150% increase in sales from last year, and that was while competing with two newer and larger stands on the corner. She plans to open another stand next to her compition next season. Something she has seen ShopRite do with great success.

  6. Anonymous, Acme once had a store (with the classic 60's peaked-roof design) in Dover DE on Governors Ave between Minor St, Reed St, and New St. It's some kind of daycare now, but still has the vintage Acme streetlights in the parking lot, as the Clayton store still does. These also were intact at the former Lansdowne PA store which closed in 2005 (now a Save-A-Lot) but were replaced at some point a few years after Save-A-Lot opened. I get the feeling though that the original Dover store may have moved to a busier location in the 70's though. It's amazing how much money Acme put into "small town" stores back in the day. For example, the Berwick PA store was built in the 60's but got a major expansion and remodel in the 70's, similar to what happened with Acme in Princeton Junction NJ and South Philly on Oregon Ave. Back to Dover though, I think the Big Lots across from the current Acme in town (which is in front of the Dover Downs stadium) may have been a late 60's or 70's Acme which moved across the street to its current location.

  7. When I worked for the company this was one of the company's most successful, if not THE most successful. It was always featured in The Trumpeter as doing something right, and it's possible it led the company in sales and/or profit. Too bad the company no longer has the ability to lead the market.

    Those crooked letters... looks like they fell off and a store employee put them back on the wall, not paying much attention to how they should be mounted. I doubt they were installed that way.

    1. I agree. I moved to the area in 1999 & it was clear this store was a big deal. I knew people who lives 20 minutes away who drove to shop specifically at this store. It's a shame what's happened.

      As for the letters, they have changed so many times it's not funny. It went from saying ACME, then ACME/Savon Pharmacy in the center, then back to just ACME in the center, with Savon Pharmacy off to the side. It's annoying.

    2. @Acme 7124: Good point about the letters but... I think if they had fallen off there would have been marks left on the wall. I just think it's hilarious that someone thought the "P" in King of Prussia should be lowercase.

      @AbercrombieMike: I completely forgot to mention the front sign being moved! You can still see the marks left when they had the Acme/Savon signs together in the center.

    3. I worked in a store with the Industrial Circus decor and it seemed it had a penchant for falling off the walls. I'm guessing that if those letters fell off the wall, the employee re-mounting them wasn't really thinking of aesthetics!

  8. It seems the font and phrases giant is currently using are looking very simaler to S&S and Giant Landover.

  9. The Big Lots in Dover was never an Acme it was a Food City and then Big Lots the Blue Hen Mall store is now the Kent County Levy was completely torn down for the new building. The Metro Food Market (Shoppers) was a new store and after the Supervalu acquistion of Acme the store was closed a couple years later. The store was never an Acme and was located about a mile south of the new Acme on Dupont Hwy.

  10. This store opened in the Spring of 1993. I can't recall whether or not there was a "flashcut" transition, but if both were open simultaneously it wasn't for very long.

    I was hosting a local cable-TV program for King Of Prussia at the time, and there's a prominent video clip of this store's grand opening in the show's opening sequence (that continued running every week long after the store was no longer new).

    The original KOP Acme was store #1761, and was on the far right when facing the original outdoor King Of Prussia Plaza. The pitched roof was covered with the big awning probably sometime around 1978-80, if I had to guess.

    Great website, I've already spent more hours than I care to admit just looking!

    1. "I've already spent more hours than I care to admit just looking!"

      That's what I like the hear!

  11. the major remodel was in 2000, i should know, i worked there since 1996, in 2007 the put the wild harvest section in

  12. I shop at the King of Prussia Acme every Sunday, and over the past month the store is fully stocked again. A few months ago, the shelves were empty. It was horrible. I even talked the meat manager into bring back the wild harvest meats back. And the store has been busier of late. I actually found myself waiting a number of times for people to move because aisles were packed with customers. At least things are moving in the right direction!

  13. update: the reading center is gone! its now full of sale items and bakery items. But in true Acme style, the reading center sign remains!

  14. go back in now. center aisle closed off. aisles rearranged. grand re opening soon.

  15. the store has been re-set, the organic section has been expanded and even has a freezer section. sales are up! on Sunday's when I shop, its hard to get down some aisles!

  16. I worked at the KOP Acme in the late 90s during the "Red, White & Blue" era. And yes. The place was ALWAYS packed. I was never bored!

    Sadly, that was a long, long time ago. I drive past the old Acme everyday and no matter what time of the day it is, the parking lot is half-empty. Even on weekends!

    I don't know if it was good management or a bustling economy back then but the KOP Acme I worked for back in the late 1990s definitely had its finger on the pulse. Today, they're getting wiped out by Wegman's, Walmart and Giant (all within a 5-mile radius). The magic is sadly gone.

  17. this acme looks almost like the doylestown acme and i wish acmestyle that you would please post it after your summer vacation

  18. I stopped by here last night. The reading center was gone, and if I remember correctly, the sign on it was finally taken down. The produce spotlights, along with the floodlights on the décor and organic spotlights have been removed. Additionally, the florist has moved from their old location to where some checkout stands used to be.
    By the way, anyone know what's up with the mall expansion? Looking at the expansion plans, I saw they were going to keep half the old parking garage, but that part of the garage was being demolished when I went by.

  19. Going from my visit yesterday sounds like things haven't changed much. Still has self checkouts, BTW.

  20. This looks like the same situation with some Shoppers stores.