Friday, May 22, 2015

Acme – Wilmington, Delaware

Photos courtesy of Will aka B-More Retail on flickr

Location: 1901 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 

This is one of those Acmes that I have been dying to get up on the blog for years. Thanks to Will, the wait is over. The Fairfax Acme arrives at Acme Style today!

The evolution of this store is absolutely fascinating. I can't say for sure what happened and when. Even in its earliest days, it doesn't look like a typical 50's Acme from the aerial views. As I researched this store years ago, I was convinced that it didn't start out as an Acme. Turns out it did. The store opened on November 3, 1954 and as we'll see in the historic aerials, there was no building on this property in 1953. This is one of Acme's oldest operating stores. I believe it is beat only by Maple Shade and Narbeth.

A few additions have been done over the years but none have added a significant amount of space to the building. The interior undoubtedly reconfigured many times over to maximize the effectiveness of the store's limited space. This location was remodeled under SuperValu with the Premium Fresh and Healthy 2.0 package. Below is a picture of how the store looked in the early 2000's prior to the most recent remodel...

Starbucks was added during the previous remodel but has since been removed. Judging from the exterior here, I would guess the store had the Chalkboard Market interior. Notice the facade was built up higher during the last remodel and the "ACME" letters got a little bigger...

A few of these exterior photos were taken from Google Maps.

The store was expanded on this side at some point. The historic aerials are pretty limited to it's hard to pinpoint when various changes were made to the store.

The layout here remains intact from the very last round of remodels done by American Stores in the late 90's. The Bakery and Deli were moved to the right side of the store with Produce getting moved directly across the new service departments to create the "Grand Aisle".

PF&H flooring was installed in this portion of the store.

A nice view of "ACME" branded water on the left in a store where very few products say ACME on them. I've heard there are rumors floating around that the ACME brand will be returning to stores. Time will tell.

This store along with the Trolley Square location are the only small stores that I'm aware of that were remodeled by SuperValu. Generally they only bothered investing int the large, high-volumel locations.

Not sure about the tile in the rest of the store. It looks rather new and doesn't have the pattern that is often seen in the Chalkboard Market stores. With that remodel happening in the late 90's, the floors were often left in place for the PF&H remodel.

The store tops out at 9 aisles. Not bad considering the space that the Grand Aisle takes up. You can definitely see in these pictures that the aisles are pretty tight.

A look around back. Break room and bathroom on the first floor. Looks the the compressor room is just above on the second floor.

The delivery bays are an extension of the addition put on the left side of the store. Thankfully SuperValu did not strip the red oval logo off of every trailer. Just most of them.


Aerial views show the store before the most recent remodel. You can see the addition to the left side, although the space that was added is not quiet as wide as the new roof would seem to indicate. I believe the store originally ended were the raised roof along the back ends.

Notice how the roofline along the side and rear is lower than the center of the store. Such an odd sight for a 50's Acme. Perhaps the lower roof sections were additions to the store. The two story section along the back does appear to have been an expansion to the original building.



The store has been its current size since at least 1992.

Perhaps the addition happened during the 80's remodel.

12 years after the store opened. Not sure if this is how the building started out or if there were already some additions made by this point. Could the entire permitter of the store be an addition?

Nothing in 1953. 

Closing out with one more view from Google Maps. Thanks to Will for brining us one of Acme's oldest and most interesting stores!


  1. A very interesting store!

    Acme's Delaware stores seem to be among the best performing in the chain - they haven't closed a store in that state in over 10 years.

  2. The stores in Delaware and the few that are left on the Eastern shore are the most profitable in the chain Gerry

  3. I stopped in the store around noon on a weekday to take these pictures. There seemed to be a decent amount of people in the store. All of the checkouts, except one was open. Lots of employees. The produce and bakery section was impressive for being a small store. What I am curious about is where they would have been able to fit a Starbucks.

    1. Starbucks was in the front right corner. That said, it wasn't a Starbucks with seating, just a Starbucks counter for people on the go.

      Acme and Super Fresh both are very successful in Delaware despite having many old, small stores. Why? It's simple. Both chains (going back to when A&P was still A&P, pre-Super Fresh) have been in the state since at least the 1950s, and are very firmly entrenched.

      Safeway and Ahold both have several stores in the state, but stores that would seem to be holding on by a finger. The Safeway stores are all alone (if you ignore the Safeway presence in Baltimore/DC and the new Acme relationship with Safeway) now that Genuardi's is gone. Super G/Giant also is an anomaly in Delaware today (as with Safeway, ignoring the Baltimore/DC sister stores, and ignoring Giant Carlisle/Martin's) with Super G long gone from PA, and the whole Edwards/Super G/Stop & Shop experiment having ended in southern NJ. Ahold admitted the ultimate defeat in southern NJ by selling a huge chunk of stores to ShopRite.

      ShopRite does have a presence in Delaware, but their presence is minimal, and their stores in the state seem to all be in odd locations, with poor visibility. Trader Joe's has a store in far northern Wilmington but wouldn't do well anywhere else in the state (except maybe Newark but that's unlikely, or Rehoboth Beach which is also unlikely). Also, Food Lion is in the state, but only in very poor areas.

      Wegmans, Weis, and Whole Foods all avoid Delaware, which I'm sure also helps Acme and Super Fresh/Pathmark, and Walmart has a very small presence, with no Supercenter anywhere near Wilmington. So compared to PA, NJ, and MD, Delaware is a paradise for those of us who cherish Acme and other grocery chains we grew up with.

    2. Thanks Jim for all the great info!

  4. It's stores like this that look so bad with PF& least remove the leaf and give it a repaint....

  5. Yesterday I got off I-95 to stop somewhere for lunch, and then I stumbled upon this classic Acme. I was a true de ja vu moment because I recognized it from the blog. This location retains all the charm of any classic location and represents everything that I love about Acme. It doesn't surprise me that it's one of the oldest operating locations. It was also fairly busy at the time I was there, despite being very humble. One reason for its success might be its central location, where Acme established early. The employees were also friendly.