Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Former Acme — Kensington, Maryland

Photos courtesy of Michael H. of Fairfax, VA

Location: 10504 Connecticut Ave, Kensington, MD

Michael shares the following details...

Open by the late 1960's (actual opening date: February 12, 1958) when the store started to appear in Acme ads in The Washington Post. Now a Hardware City. Not sure how long Hardware City has been at this location or if there was another tenant or tenants after Acme. The inside of the store was packed with customers and employees. Add to that the displays and aisle fixtures went almost to the ceiling. This made taking any pictures difficult. The store still had the trademark Acme air vents lining the left and right of the store that are seen in other stores on Acme Style. What would have been the backroom of the store is now an indoor lumber yard for smaller length stock. There is a staircase in the far back of the store going upstairs to employee areas. The inside shell of the store felt old. It seemed like nothing was done to the bones of the store to get it ready for Hardware City. The exterior looks like other stores on Acme Style of the same vintage. You can tell at the entrance where the "Magic Mats" for the doors once were. It is possible that the entry way and hand rails are original. They certainly have that 1960's grocery store feel to them. The rear of the store has the famous beam that would be used to crane up equipment to the compressor room.

Aerial Views...

Strange layout at this shopping center. You would think the smaller, stand-alone building was added in recent years but it was actually the very first building on the property!

Hard to believe Acme would have built in a spot where their store front was completely blocked from the road AND the entire parking lot. Not sure if this store had a entrances on both sides. Certainly should have.

Historic Aerials...




The land has been cleared for the Acme. Seems like it would have made more sense to build at the other side of the property.


  1. I always thought this was a Food Fair.

  2. The corner lot would have been the prime parcel, so it's not odd that it would have been developed first--it would have been part of Kensington's downtown which also includes another, older strip of stores near the commuter rail station E of here. This may even be a case where the shopping center originally had more than one owner--business strips turned shopping centers often were like that. The siting is odd, but its likely that they had to do it because of where they needed depth on the property for truck access, etc. and location of other stores.

    Acme's history in the DC area is an odd one--they established themselves there back in the late 20s, but never had a large footprint. They shared S&H green stamps with Grand Union, which was unusual. Grand Union had a much larger, though varied set of store. Acme also seems to have gotten into a lot of subpar locations. Their last store in DC proper is at Half & L St SW (still obviously a pitched roof Acme), which is occupied by the Postal Service. It was part of a mixed income urban renewal project, but away from the more affluent area, most of the residential properties or even other commercial buildings. Another one of their former stores is in the Hollywood shopping cneter in College Park--adjacent to a rather large subdivision, but away from Rt 1, which is the main thoroughfare where Food Fair and Safeway had stores. The building is now a long running REI--previously Shop-Rite and A&P had had it. The center has mostly service businesses--it used to have a never busy Rite Aid/Drug Fair.

    It may be that Acme couldn't compete for prime locations with Giant, Safeway, or Grand Union. Giant and Grand Union both were in the shopping center business, which may have created advantages for them, esp. Giant which developed more neighborhood-y properties. A&P, which was a relatively minor factor in DC compared with other cities, also had odd locations. Their last DC store is easy to miss.