Friday, March 24, 2017

Acme – Allendale, New Jersey

Location: 45 De Mercurio Dr, Allendale, NJ

The Allendale Acme began it's like as a standart 70's A&P which was converted to the chain's very first ground-breaking Futurestore in the 80's. The interior and exterior were completely overhauled again for the "fresh" remodel in the 2000's. The Allendale A&P must have been very successful over the years to have been completely transformed three times over, although the Futurestore incarnation lasted far beyond it's prime. From what I observed and read online, Acme isn't having quite the same success. While the parking lot looks crowed, there were very few people in the Acme on what should have been a very busy Saturday afternoon. 

Former Centennial A&P located to the right. This shopping center is quite beautiful and you'd never guess it's been here for as many decades as it has. I would imagine the landlord renovated the whole place when the A&P was remodeled. It's a shopping center worthy of being smack-dab in the middle of town.

AP Futurestore Exterior
Futurestore photos courtesy of John's flickr collection

A photo from A&P's 1985 annual report showing the newly remodeled Allendale Futurestore. 

The exterior of this store still looks brand-new! How about those parking lot lights? Impressive.

Absolutely beautiful interior! This had been a very well maintained A&P and Acme is doing an outstanding job keeping looking great. That's one thing Acme has been very successful with in these converted stores. They're super clean and well-stocked. Maybe Acme could shift some labor hours from maintenance over to the cashiers. As much as I love a clean store, I don't want to stand in line for 15 minutes for a few items.


A&P Futurestore Interior from 1984 Annual

AP Futurestore Interior
Hard to believe this is the same store! Non too happy with myself that I had never once been in one of these Futurestores. We didn't have any in the area of New Jersey where I grew up and I think they were getting fazed out elsewhere by the time I got my license and stared driving everywhere to check out grocery stores.

Great looking Starbucks. Looks like a more recent model. Does anyone know if it's been remodeled lately?

This totally threw me... Floral being in the spot that's used for the café. A little weird seeing flowers right next to the pizza oven.

As you know, I usually try to take people-free photos. That wasn't a problem in this store. Here IU was actually tring to get a couple WITH people so the place didn't look so sad.

Former liquor and wine now home to a sprawling health food department...

This place literally has a full-sized health food store in the back corner. Still, doesn't seem to interest the residents of Allendale all that much.

Not a soul. I had just come from the Waldwick Stop and Shop which, I swear, had more shoppers in it than the Acme and their shelves were only half-stocked!

Crickets in Seafood at a quarter after noon on a Saturday.

I believe the Bakery may have originally been in the back corner but is now 3/4 of the way down the back wall due to an expansion out of the far side of the store.

This store is stocked with fresh-foods like it does high-volume sales. Maybe the lack of customer was just a fluke during my visit.

If A&P got one thing right it was the second round of the "fresh" remodels. The décor, floors, colors and styling were about as good as you can get in a traditional supermarket.

Acme is installing ceiling fans in the frozen food aisles in many of the converted stores.

What is up with this place? A gorgouse store like this should be drawing much bigger crowds! I'm not really familiar with the area so I don't know what competition is nearby. I did see mentioned somewhere that a ShopRite is about 5 minutes away.

No Quality Built checkout lights to replace A&P's re-numbered lights.

Couldn't even spring for an Acme sign to hang here.


The parking lot certainly doesn't help things here. It was a good 3/4 full when I was here and still no one in the Acme. There is a large section on the other side of the entrance driveway, off the right side of this photo.


The more recent historic aerials are terrible making it difficult to pin down the year of the "fresh" remodel.



Now this is a great shot! We can clearly see the 70's awning with the A&P sign front and center!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Acme's Trying To Get Better...


On March 12th, a comment came in to the latest discussions post about a memo that was addressed to the employees of each and every store. Changes were underway to improve Acme... yet again. It  seems Acme went drastically off course toward the end of 2016, at least that's what this Acme shopper observed. Out of control prices and deteriorating service. In recent weeks, I had left some comments on the blog which mentioned the troubling trends I was seeing. An Acme employee wrote in to share some behind-the-scenes information in to let me know drastic improvements were coming soon. Turns out that Jim Perkins, former chief or operations for the Easter Division, had returned after being transferred to the Texas division. last year The person who had replaced him was from Safeway and decided to run Acme as a Safeway clone which lead to higher prices and declining service. Fortunately, that person no longer is involved with Acme and Mr. Perkins is fast-tracking some huge improvements to get Acme back on track!


And not a moment too soon! The memo that was sent to stores listed several initiatives that Acme is undertaking to drive sales including the lowering of hundreds of "super sensitive items" around the store. These prices went into effect on March 3rd. I haven't necessarily seen any regular prices go down but I have noticed a HUGE increase sale items. In fact, on my last shopping trip to Acme, every single grocery and household item I purchased was on sale. Some of the items have very rarely been on sale in the past. It's doesn't' seem Acme intends to launch another price-lowering campaign but they are adding "Xtra Savings" shelf-tags around the store to call out the new savings. You can see some examples below.

The "Something More for Less" shelf-tags, that used to number in the hundreds up and down every aisle, are thankfully gone. I tend to think that campaign ran it's course a while ago. The "Xtra" tags are bright, bold and more to the point. Walk up and down any aisle and you see there's no denying that Acme has just slashed prices.


While I do think all of this is a step in the right direction, Acme has one very serious problem on it's hands that does not seem to be getting addressed. It all began with the removal of the self-checkouts. Oh sure, they want the customers to have interactions with the employees. Sounds great on paper but what happens when their aren't nearly enough cashiers on duty to handle the customers? Everybody gets pissed off. Plain and simple. In most North Jersey stores I'm in, I find the FOUR self-checkouts that have been removed have been replaced by only two to three manned registers. A few weeks ago, I visited a bunch of converted stores for the blog on a Saturday afternoon... prime grocery shopping time. Every single store I was in, with the exception of one location, had only THREE registers open and most of those stores had long lines. In Elmwood Park, the lines were so bad at the three open registers, I gave up trying to buy a bottle of water and protein bar and just walked out. A few weeks ago I was in New Providence. TWO registers open with long lines and neither register was express. The Fort Lee store NEVER has an express register open when I'm in there.

Hey, don't take my word for it. Type in any North Jersey or New York Acme into Yelp and read the reviews. You will see endless complaints about the removal of the self-checkouts and the ridiculously long lines at store after store after store. You'll even find people leaving comments on Acme's very own Fresh Press Blog about the long lines and lack of open registers under posts that have nothing to do with service. There seems to be an overall lack of front-end management in these stores. Edgewater is the only Acme I know of that has a front-end manager on duty monitoring the lines. In other stores I'm in regularly, I have watched managers walk along the front-end completely unfazed by the insane lines at the 2 to 3 open registers. Wow, what a change from the days that I worked at Acme. Long lines = getting every employee who had the slightest clue about running a register ON a register. These days customers stand in frustratingly long lines with plenty of time think twice about ever coming back to Acme. My advice to Acme, which they'd never take but here goes... BRING BACK THE SELF CHECKOUTS!!!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Stop and Shop – Waldwick, New Jersey

Location: 19 Wyckoff Ave, Waldwick, NJ 

The Waldwick Stop&Shop... clocking in at a mere 22.000 square feet... closed on March 2nd.  According to reports, the company decided to close this location after a review of the store's performance. I suspect the age and size of the store were big factors in the decision. I have seen some comments online accusing the landlord for being at fault for the closing. I will say I was totally surprised at how busy the store was when I stopped by despite the low inventory levels and complete lack of a going-out-of-business sale.

This location was a former Grand Union that Stop and Shop acquired in 2001. Grand Union's late 90's remodel remains intact as does the wood paneling from the revolutionary 80's remodel.

All indications are the store was expanded into this section for the 80's remodel. Produce and the Bakery got crammed into the additional space.

Decent Bakery for such a small store. Still chock full of goods in the stores final days. The flooring and décor are from the late 90's remodel which was done at a fast and furious pace helping to sink Grand Union into debt it was never able to get out of. Still kicking myself for never photographing the interior of the Clifton Grand Union. The results were absolutely stunning right down to the old-fashioned styled register lights. You can check out a 90's remodeled Grand Union in East Rutherford by clicking here. Stop&Shop has since remodeled the store sending GU's beautiful murals and props straight to the trash.

Chef something or other is along the back of the section GU expanded in to.

Stop&Shop left this store pretty much as-is when it acquired it. New aisle signs and registers is about all this store got.

Bad attempt to zoom into the décor above the former prepared foods. I didn't get as many shots along the back as I would have liked. This place was crawling with employees with at least two looking at me with a "what's that guy up to" look on their faces.

Some aisles were more empty than others. Guess the remaining merchandise was going to be moved to other stores. There were a few end caps with discounted merchandise but that was it. I couldn't believe how many shoppers were strolling up and down the aisles like everything was normal here.

Another extreme close-up. Kept waiting for that manager to get off his phone and disappear. He never did.

Category signs by Stop and Shop.

Wood paneling from the 80's remodel still on most of the walls around the store.

Frozen was one of the most wiped-out departments in the store.

Looks as though Stop and Shop walled in this area here. It's missing GU's wood paneling and they added a S&S clock just around the corner...

Old school cart coral!





Looks as though the store hadn't expanded by this point. I believe Grand Union's remodels kicked in high-gear around 1988.





Map above shows the Stop&Shop in relation to the Allendale Acme, which will be coming to the blog soon.