Friday, April 19, 2013

Classic Acme! North Plainfield, NJ

Classic images courtesy of Rob Ascough

Location: 780 Route 22, North Plainfield, NJ

Opened in October 1955. The store lasted until the early 2000's but the exact closing date in unknown at this time. The building style is similar to the former store in Union NJ which opened a few months later in February 1956. The two stores have very different facades but both had their entrance and exit in the same spot, which was unusual for 50's stores. Most stores of this era had the front doors at the corner of the building. The location of the doors seen here became more common for the Colonial Cottage models of the 60's and then standard issue for the "33M" stores of the 70's. Notice the cool railing along the side walk to keep the shopping carts in. You can see them closer up in this photo of the abandoned Clementon store. They were commonly seen in 70's era stores.

Update 4.20.13: The North Plainfield Acme closed in 2003. AbercrombieMike found an article on that has a brief mention of the store. Click here to read the article. Interestingly, the focus of the story is on the Sparta store and how the Levin Management Corporation is converting these outdated supermarkets for other uses. The article has some inaccurate and misleading information.  At the time of the article, the Acme had existed for over 40 years. The article states 30 years. The writer also mentions that a "new 25,000 square foot Stop and Shop opened" in Sparta a year earlier. This is far from the case. Stop and Shop took over the Grand Union and did nothing more than put their sign on the store and install new registers. Calling it "new" is pretty inaccurate. As far as the Acme closing, the jury is still out on the exact reason. I've been told that the closing came rather unexpectedly due to the lease expiring with no option to renew. Business had certainly taken a hit from the disastrous conversion to the "convenience store" format which saw about 25% of the stores merchandise eliminated. An extension built on Route 15 a few years prior also reduced traffic through town drastically. The article states that 14,000 car pass the shopping center a day. I find this very hard to believe but have nothing to back it up. Stop and Shop has relocated to a new, ginormous building in Sparta. While it really is *new* now, it is also one of the most unappealing supermarkets I've ever stepped foot in. Now back to North Plainfield...

Windows were blocked off both on the left and right sides during the 70's remodel. The red oval sign remains far superior to the currently used block letter logo.

As the store is today... home to a CVS. Just like the former store in Union. The space here is shared with a CitiBank. The interior was completely gutted and redone. No clues of Acme remain inside or along the front of the building.

Sidewalks redone. No railing or magic carpet scars to be found.

The perturbing columns along the side here are a common Acme element. There the first thing I look for when I suspect a building may have been a 50's Acme.

A quick turn up to the street for a view of the big-small sign.

We usually see these towering high up in the sky. Not at this location! You'll get a look of the sign with the Acme logo in place down below.

Back down to the back corner...

Delivery door scar there on the right.

More scars along the back...

Basement storage in this Acme. Rob worked here for a day and saw merchandise coming up on a conveyer belt from the basement.

The back of the store was used for deliveries back in the Acme days. It's since been sealed up and landscaped.

Chimney there on the corner. Always a sign of an old-school Acme.

The section sticking out up at the front may have been added during the 80's remodel. It appears to be there in the 1995 satellite image.

The Acme survived quite a long time, especially considering it's small size. A much larger Pathmark was located 3 miles down Route 22.

Aerial views...

Historic aerials...


Looks as if the Acme is still going in 2002.


The small addition has yet to happen in '87. The remodel may not have happened until '88 or '89.







It is quite impressive that this small Acme was able to survive into the 2000's. The Acme coexisted with a much larger Pathmark about 3 miles down Route 22. Both this Pathmark and Kmart have shut down in recent years.

North Plainfield is the final round of from Rob's 1999 photo collection. 


  1. You forgot to mention when this store closed. Please add this to the top of the article if possible.

    1. Not sure when it closed. Post has been updated.

  2. The store closed in 2003. More info here:

  3. That small addition was the bakery. I worked there in the '90's. Nice to see some old b pictures.