Friday, April 11, 2014

Acme — Clifton, New Jersey

Location: 467 Allwood Rd, Clifton, NJ

This week we're returning to the Clifton Acme for the full Acme Style treatment! Pictures of the original store appeared on the blog back in 2009 along with a quick look at this newer location. In 2010, the new location here on Allwood Road was featured briefly again when its Pharmacy was eliminated. At the time, I had wondered if this store was in danger of closing.

The Clifton store is the Acme that I live closet to. Unfortunately, it is not within a convenient traveling distance for regular grocery shopping. I have stopped in here numerous times since it opened in 2004. Each visit proved more disappointing than the one before. A few years ago came here to do some shopping and was horrified at the conditions. It seemed to have aged more than stores that had been opened for decades. On top of that, shelves up and down every aisle were empty and a mess. I left not buying a single item and decided to never return. That, of course, all happened while SuperValu was running Acme into the ground. When I returned  this past weekend, I was stunned by the improved conditions. The store looks as good as it did when it first opened. That's certainly not something I would have said two years ago.

Let's start out by taking a quick look at the ever changing signage here. The picture above was taken back in 2009. "ACME" was originally centered above the entrance but was moved to the left to make room for the "Sav-on" sign. The Seatles Best Coffee sign began as a Starbucks sign. "Pharmacy" was above the entrance at the other end of the store with "FOOD" over the main entrance.

In March 2010, the store lost its pharmacy so Sav-on went bye-bye.. An unsightly scar remained for quite some time. Seatles Best's sign would soon be removed as the coffee shop switched affiliations yet again, becoming Bucks County Coffee.

As the store looks today. Both "FOOD" and coffee signage are gone and ACME has not been moved back to the center. A fresh coat of paint was finally added to cover up all of the scars.

The coffee shop was a pretty big draw while I was here. I circled around to the area about 4 times to get a shot without customers buying up gigantic frapa-somethings.

When it comes to the new "cleaner stores" promise, Clifton is delivering! I've honestly not seen this place this clean since it's grand opening.

Even the blue light boxes are illuminated! Some stores have pulled the plugs on these.

Regular Deli on the left, Kosher Deli on the right. The entire store caters heavily to the local jewish community.

One area still in need of some help here is the Bakery. Selection was slim. Many of the display tables were not even half full of product. I was surprised to see absolutely no Culinary Circle fresh baked breads. Some of the best you can find at a grocery store these days. Even beats the hell out of the offerings at Wegmans.

Huge improvement in the Produce Department. I have always been underwhelmed by the selection and quality here. That wasn't the case this past weekend. The department is looking better than ever.

Frozen food cases here are stocked with Kosher foods.

The Kosher Marketplace has lower shelving for the center aisle.

The original aisle signs remain with no category markers for grocery. A store directory would also be a very helpful addition.

The store seems so much larger than I remember. Maybe all of those unstocked shelves that I encounterd here in the SuperValu days made the place feel smaller. This time around the place felt huge! The stores tops out at 20 aisles with 3 more aisles located in the Health and Beauty Aid Department in the front corner.

A portion of the Frozen Food Department runs along the back of the store. Dairy also resides nearly enterely along the back wall. Due to the constraints of the property, the store is extremely wide allowing more departments than usual to line the back wall.

There is also one and a half aisles of frozen food cases...

The original category markers still hang from the ceiling here. The new "Acme getting better" signage can be seen throughout the store. Gone are the "Card Free Savings" signs.

Dairy along the back.

Additioanl dairy in an alcove in the back corner.

Aisle 20 is quite wide. Shelving has been added here on the left. A huge improvement over the junk aisle that this used to be.

The Pharmacy is gone. Shelving now runs along the front of it. A similar situation can be seen at the Milltown store.

There is an additional entrance and exit here on the left.

Customer Sercice on the right.

Seasonal shelving right in the middle of everything. I'm not sure if this has always been here. There is a double wide "Seasonal" aisle which I did not get a picture of. I'm also not sure if that has always been there. Meant to circle back to see if there were any scars from removed shelving.

Looks like no one was here but this place did seem decently busy. Certainly not drawing the crowds that the new Stop and Shop on Broad Street does. You can visit the old Stop and Shop/former Grand Union by clicking here. I swear I have pictures of the new Stop and Shop somewhere on this blog but have yet to track them down.

Update: Found 'em! They were posted as an update back in 2009. To jump to the post, click here.

"Pharmacy" used to be above this entrance.

New "ACME Getting Better" banners attached to all the cart corrals.

The huge sign on top of the A.C. Moore building as it was back in 2009. Sav-on is now covered over in red.

Classic Acme trailer in excellent condition parked on the side of the store.

Sav-on has been covered over here. Some signs around the center have been updated with "ACME" moving back to the center.

The entire Styvertowne Center just off of Route 3. The Acme and A.C. Moore sit downhill from the rest of the stores.

This Acme makes up in width what it lacks in depth. Delivery doors and bays are on the sides of the building.

No delivery doors along the back.

The original Clifton Acme over on Route 46, nearly 4 miles away from the replacement store...

Classic Photos courtesy of Rob Ascough

1006 Route 46 West, Clifton, NJ

The original Clifton Acme opened in May 20, 1959 and closed on February 2, 2004, the day before the replacement store opened. Despite the red oval logo on the front, the store did not receive the 80's Remodel. It retained the 70's Colonial Decor until the later 90's when it was swapped out for the Convenience Store decor package. The same situation played out at the Sparta store and ironically both store lasted longer than many of the 80's Remodels. 

Big Lots took over the Acme space. Not sure if the jazzy new color scheme came before or after the Acme left. Fortunately, a better upgrade was in the center's future...

Huge improvement here with the new facade and columns.

The entrance and exit configuration remains unchanged from the Acme days.

It still has that Acme feel!

Produce ran along the left wall.

Dairy was located along the back wall, which is here on the left.

Meat and Deli were located along this wall. The Deli was in an unusual spot, all the way up in the front corner.

The Big Lots registers are in the same location as Acme's registers.

This door was most likely for Deli deliveries. An emergency exit was located further to the left.

This was a fairly large store for 1959. You can see here that the back room  and second floor ran along the right side of the store as opposed to the back.

A look at the neighbor's place...

An A&P was once located in the shopping center next door. It appears from the aerial images that it was closed by 1987.

The A&P is now an Unclaimed Freight which extends into the former stores to the left of the A&P building. Not sure what the deal is with the light gray building. There are some stores along the front but not sure what's going on in the rear of the building.

A barrel roofed A&P with the Centennial front.

Fortunately for us, very little has changed here since the A&P days!

A&P's entrance and exit which had been used by Unclaimed Freight. According to a sign on the door, Unclaimed Freight moved the entrance to the front of the building.

Scars from the magic carpets!

When I first walked in, I thought this place had a tin ceiling! Turns out it was just shiny...

That may be the original A&P office there in the far corner. It was hard to tell for sure.

The entrance and exit on the other side of the store is now covered over. Magic carpet scars are still visible on the cement...

I would have swung by here years ago if I knew the place was so unaltered!

Historic Aerials...








Jumping back over to the Styretowne Shopping Center...




For a look at the original Clifton post, please click here. To check out an Acme that is truly benefitting from the company's new owners, please visit here.


  1. I was at this Acme in early July 2013. The store was sparsely stocked and what they had didn't seem fresh especially in the perishable departments. I'm glad to see the store is improving. I'm in the area pretty often when I have to go into NYC. The hotels in New Jersey are cheaper and the train ride into the city isn't that bad. Anyhow, this is the only traditional grocer that I've seen other than Wegmans that has a separate Kosher deli and a separate Kosher section in the grocery aisles. Good way to connect with and serve your community. I'd be interested in knowing how their kosher business does. In the DC area where I live folks who want Kosher foods typically go to smaller Kosher stores not big grocery stores.

    I've also been in the new Stop and Shop which is down the street from the Acme. Brand new building as you mention. It's the latest prototype with produce and the service departments on the left side of the store, Pharmacy in the right front and the grocery aisles in the middle. Nice store but it seems very generic and sterile. Google Street View still has a shot of the old store:

    1. Thanks for the link! I was able to track down the pictures of the Stop and Shop on the blog….

      The store has the fruit bowl decor package. Horribly generic. I believe it has been retired and Stoo and Shop is now using the same decor package as Giant/Carlisle.

    2. Shoprite in Marlboro also has the Kosher deli.

      Not a fan of the plastic green carts. Acme should bring back the yellow metal carts from the late 80s and early 90s.

    3. Yes, I'd also be interested in whether this Acme serves the sizable kosher-keeping community of Passaic, which is nearby, or whether it is marketed rather as a “kosher-style” deli.

    4. It's kosher for certain. They do cater to the Passaic Park/Rosemawr section Jewish community. Only problem is nobody's ever there.

  2. Yeah, the current decor used across all of Das Frutboland is miles better than the yellow & purple. It fits better with the mid-00's stores they're starting to really replace the decor in.

  3. In this area (Albany NY) there is one Price Chopper that also offers the separate Kosher areas, and has for quite some time, even in the older store in that location. Apparently that one has enough demand to do so also (or maybe just that folks from other parts of the region will head to that store knowing that they have this offering)?

  4. I lived in Clifton for a few years at the end of the 90's (near the Harp N Bard). I remember the old Acme on 46, the old Grand Unions (there was a tiny one off Lexington plus the bigger one on Allwood). I also remember the Edwards opening on Route 3 in Clifton Commons and the Botony Village Pathmark opening as well. 21 was still under construction, I think it dumped you off at Dayton or somewhere around that area.

    I am certain that Styretowne had a grocery store at the time, but our friend Josh via his Flickr account indicates that the C-Town had been taken over by CVS by this time (the space was a GU before C-Town). I don't recall shopping at Styretown, but I did have a doctor nearby. I remember the center being really dated - it's nice to see that some better tenants moved in and they upgraded it. Been meaning to get back to the area, but the furthest north I have gotten is North Brunswick/Edison.

    You're familiar with Corrado's, right? That would be an interesting bonus store. I wonder how it looks now. As a vendor, I remember our stuff being stored in another warehouse and we would have to go over and ask them to transfer pallets to the store for us to work. And the incredible selection of interesting fruits and vegetables.

    1. I know of Corrado's but not very familiar with it. I've never been there but I'll try to swing by the next time I'm in Clifton.

    2. Corrado's opened a smaller store on River Road in North Arlington. Its about 1/3 the size of Clifton and focuses primarily on the meat, deli, and produce ares with the grocery items secondary. Its expensive but good quality. Additionally Corrados recently opened a PET center next door??? This is a curious store option for the area, and will be interesting to see how it does.

    3. Corrado's also has a location in Wayne (Berdan Ave), a pet center in Hawthorne (Goffle Rd) and even a gas station right near the main Clifton location. A few years ago there was a rumor that Corrado's wanted to buy The Market Basket in Franklin Lakes (which I read was once an Acme) but I am not sure if that ever went through.

  5. Big Lots also took over the space that the Toms River Grand Union occupied for years on Route 37. My family shopped at Grand Union throughout my entire childhood and young adulthood. Big Lots has kept the same general Grand Union feel, more or less. Of course they have taken the signage down, but you can still visualize what the former supermarket must have looked like.

  6. Wow I dodnt know Corrados had a gas station at their Clifton location. Wife and I used to shop at the Childrenswear outlet theiur for my son but that's gone now! Too bad, prices were awesome!

    1. The gas station isn't on the main property. They took over the old Sunoco station on

  7. I keep seeing you mention the old Clifton store was given the new look treatment...are you positive, AcmeStyle? Reason why is because I remember walking in the strip mall sometime after the Acme shut down and could see the old decor still on the walls, especially by the deli, when I looked in.

    As far as the gray building inbetween Clifton Plaza and Unclaimed Freight, it was built in the mid 2000s as extra retail space. I don't believe it's occupied by anything.

  8. The old Clifton store did have the Convenience Store Decor. I was in there often in it's final years. While it was a "new look" they basically just painted over everything that was there and put up new department signage. The 70's tile floor remained in place and Meat and Deli still had the wood shingle awnings.

  9. I was in the Clifton Acme today and they removed the Coffee Shop.....The area was filled with paper towel and Acme Spring Water displays as they were both on sale.

  10. Hello all. I am told by a very reliable source that the lease for Clifton, NJ is going to change to or has already gone to $100,000 per month!!!
    Also, almost any Acme opened since 1999 has a VERY short lease. The closed West Chester store had a Three year lease with extensions of one year in it's signing.
    Back to Clifton, the person or persons in charge of real estate should have been fired for agreeing to a $100,000 per month lease. I recall the stores of the 70's and older had 50 and 100 year leases. Of course most were upgraded due to additions and remodels to the real estate.
    When I worked in the Newton area, that store lease was an old version but upgraded when new signs were installed. That was a low per month lease, but for the area and amount of sales, it was shuttered.
    Washington NJ lease was broken many years ago when they added the newer produce area. And when a storm blew down their old Acme sign in front of the store on rt. 57, the manager in charge and several workers hung a new silk screened Acme sign on the front tower, and the landlord threatened that their lease would increase greatly if it were not removed within three days.

  11. This store is closing as of Feb 19, 2015.

  12. The thing about the old Route 46 Acme was that it was sideways, which explains why the deli was unusually located. It was next to the Grants discount department store and the wall between the two stores was glass, and the checkout lanes at the Acme weren't perpendicular to the front wall, as in pretty much every other large chain supermarket I ever saw, but parallel, running up the left inner side of the store so that you were looking into Grants as you waited on line. Needless to say this was fascinating to children, as were the mechanical rides in the glass-enclosed lobby both stores shared (the best was a kind of miniature one-seat ferris wheel). At some point in the 80s, iirc, after Grants had become Channel Lumber, the Acme was remodeled into "normal" configuration,