Saturday, March 10, 2018

Acme – Old Bridge, New Jersey

Location: 3500 Route 9, Old Bridge, NJ 

Acme took over the Old Bridge A&P fresh on November 8, 2915. As it is with many of the converted stores, virtually nothing has been done here to upgrade the shopping experience from the A&P days. The store seems to do a decent business which had me wondering why Acme hasn't invested in some much needed improvements.

The exterior is rather unique to A&P. The Kenilworth store is the only other store that I know of with a similar exterior. A&P never embraced entrances and exits on both sides of the their stores. The Old Bridge store actually looks more like a 90's Acme than it ever did an A&P.

A bit of fresh paint on the outside but it could use more. Looks like the green paint has been running down over the gray boarder. My impression of the outside of the store wasn't helped by the wet nasty weather.

A quick google of the situation suggest Old Bridge is the only Acme/Santander combo out there.

Very cool entry ways on both sides of the store!

I don't believe the green floor is original to the store, although it certainly looks that old. Not sure what era the flooring is from.

Customer Service is missing the letter V. Overall this store is pretty nice but when you start to look closer you can see a lot of rough spots throughout.

Acme added their express counter just across from Customer Service. THREE registers open just in the express lane? Pretty remarkable for an Acme. Of course when I was ready to checkout there was only one open.

The more former A&P fresh stores I visit, the more I realize the fresh remodels were often just a décor swap. The few A&Ps I frequented over the years were lucky to have had major remodels during the fresh era but it seems like they were the exceptions.

The Deli wasn't lucky enough to get any signage or perhaps it was removed at some point. There is a tiny Dietz and Watson sign over to the right.

Old school A&P salad bar!

Found it very odd that there was no signage back in this corner. Nothing to draw shoppers to one of the most profitable areas of the store.

Things start really going downhill in the grocery aisles. The floors are a mess! It didn't look like new shelving was put in for the big reset like it was in most other stores.

TWO double wide aisles in Old Bridge. The first is the water and soft drink aisle.

And the other double wide. Seasonal at the front half with paper products in the back half.

Have to say the staff here seemed really great. I was pleasantly greeted and asked if I needed help both in the Deli and the Bakery.

A&P registers remain in place. Acme has replaced these older models in most stores I've been in. I was surprised to still see them here. For some reason the gray bumpers were removed from all sides of each restore making them look even more like a mess. The store did get the Quality Built lights.

You can see where the bumper strips were attached in the photo above. Holes remain in their place. The customer side of the registers were even more of a mess with the bumpers being removed.

Starbucks was recently remodeled and apparently downsized. Not sure if this happened before or after Acme took over.

No Acme sign on the wall over 2 years later.

Starbucks old flooring remains in this area. Acme has filled this alcove with discount racks, a common feature at most stores since Acme cannot seem to get a handle on its product mix. I've been noticing in my local Acmes that we're in for a whole new round of clearance. The tags are popping up all over the store. Ice cream and frozen foods are getting hit particularly hard.


A Matress Firm store was added to the property in recent years.


Location: 2500 Route 9, Old Bridge, NJ
Opened: June 27, 1962

This former pitched-roof model is one mile north of the current Acme.

The pitched-roof disguised by that careful placed panel.

You can see a bit of Acme's roof from this vantage point. Best shot I could get.

A little further up Route 9...

Location: Fairway Plaza, Route. 9, Old Bridge, NJ

Had to check this ancient place out. After stepping inside, I couldn't believe something so awful could still have the ShopRite name plastered to the outside. Apparently a new 90,000 square foot ShopRite was planned to be built at Schulmeister Road but as far as I can tell, the project is dead. 

And the award for the world's ugliest décor goes to... this store! Half the neon lights in the place don't even work. The department signage could not be more mismatched with the tiled walls and floors.

Tiny in-store Bakery tucked away in this corner.

ShopRite expanded into neighboring stores with the least amount effort spent to make the new space cohesive with the existing store.

When I first walked in, I thought the place was going out of business. The first end cap I came to was completely empty of product, on a Saturday morning! Cases in Produce, which appeared to be working fine, were also completely empty. Even if a replacement store has been in the works for a few years, why hasn't this place been fixed up in decades?

Took a double take at the crazy color scheme of the registers.

Wait, there's more... 

Location: 1043 Route 9, Old Bridge, NJ

The abandoned Old Bridge Fathmark is about 3 miles North of the ShopRite. This store was among 25 that closed immediately following A&P declaring bankruptcy in July 2015. The store was also the scene of a tragic shooting back in 2012. You can google the details but I'll leave you with this link to which has a story of the store's reopening and includes a photo of the memorial plaques hung inside for the victims.

Department signage was removed from the wall and was left leaning up against the produce cases.

Doubtful another supermarket will ever move into this space. BJ's is just up the road with Walmart across the street.

An aerial view of the former Pathmark and the surrounding competition. Interestingly, the Home Depot was able to drive Lowe's out of business leaving that massive store abandoned just south of Walmart.

With Old Bridge coverage complete, we have just 4 more New Jersey stores to go! Two South Jersey stores and two shore store all coming soon to Acme Style!


  1. I am just guessing. That might have been originally built as an A&P Save a Center?


    Sorry for my back to back comment. This was originally built as a sav a center store. Based on the picture I found in Wikipedia.

    1. Yes! I've seen that rendering before but completely forgot about it.

  3. That ShopRite is one of the worst grocery stores I've ever set foot inside. Truly disgusting.

    1. I stopped myself before I put this in the post but I was going to answer their "Why Pay More!" statement with... "So I don't get food poisoning!!!"

    2. Looks like the cheap version of the Winn Dixie 80's decor:

  4. That particular ShopRite was one of the few (maybe only?) case where it was a single store - that is the owners of it had just that store and not a small chain of ShopRite locations. That very likely lead to the lack of updating (less $ available to work with being a smaller company).

    It was more recently bought out by Village supermarkets, which has a total of 29 stores in NJ, PA and MD, so I'd suspect they have only not done more to it if they were working on a plan to replace it as mentioned.

    On the other side, that expanding into other stores is not so unusual with SR - the one just over into East Brunswick was like that for years (including ramps due to the "additions" being a different height of building, and also at one point having the pet section in part of what had once been a back room!
    That one was redone a number of years ago, though.

    Going back to the A&P, it was kind of surprising they didn't have double entries on most of the stores, since they did do that years back (even if they basically led into the same area) with the vestibules on stores.

    There was also a former Pathmark and A&P (now Stop & Shop) over in East Brunswick as well so virtually two "duplicating sets" not all that far apart.

    1. The only one I can think of that definitely had double entries, aside from this one, was Shrewsbury.

  5. Which stores at the shore are yet to come?

    1. North Wildwood and Manahawkin

    2. Did you ever do a full tour of Little Silver?

    3. Not as an Acme but as an A&P. Not much has changed....

    4. I can help with pictures of Manahawkin. It’s the one my mom goes to. It’s not the most glamorous former Superfresh, but it doesn’t have much competition. It’s also close to much of LBI that is relatively far from the other ACME in Beach Haven.

    5. That would be a help! Thanks dougbalt!

      I'll do an update of Little Silver in the next few months.

    6. I can get photos of Little Silver. That's my area.

    7. I remember Manahawkin had plain white walls with no signage on them after Acme first took over. Did it ever get a refresh?

  6. In the aerial photo of the Pathmark and surrounding area, there is a shopping center in the upper left corner. I'm fairly certain there was an Acme there at one point but good luck figuring out where it was.

    1. According to this, it was in the part closer to Rt 9.

  7. This A&P was never a Sav-a-center. I think that this store opened in the late 90s.

    The pitched roof Acme closed in the early 80's. I remember it being abandoned for a number of years before it was repurposed.

    There is also a centennial A&P across the street from the pitched roof Acme. It closed long before the new A&P opened, I think in the 70's. It became a Norkus Foodtown and then closed after the strike in 1993. After that it was Shop n Bag until the late 90's when it became a farmers market and auto parts store.

    1. I worked for Norkus from 95 to 98 and had no idea they had had a store so far north.

    2. OK, so saying Norkus is kind of tricky. Back in the 70's Norkus Brothers Foodtown had 3 stores, Old Bridge, Farmingdale and Freehold. The brothers split the company and Farmingdale and Old Bridge went to one brother and Freehold and cash went to the other brother (Francis). The Freehold owner then acquired Point Pleasant and the original Neptune store from another Foodtown owner. He would also later open Manalapan (~1980), new Neptune (~1987) and Raintree (~1991). The Old Bridge and Farmingdale stores closed in 1993 after the local 1262 strike. After Francis died, his sons Gerry and Don split the company again in 1996. Gerry got Freehold, Raintree and Pt Pleasant. Don got Manalapan and Neptune. Gerry opened Fischer Blvd after Ahold elected not to take it with the other Mayfair foodtowns. Gerry then bought Don's stores around 1999. They then bought West end Long Branch in the 2000's and sold the whole company to Ahold around 2010.

    3. Wait, so Norkus sold out too?

    4. Ah, the supermarket strike of 1993. Boy do I remember it. Mom was shopping Pathmark at the time and since Acme was the only one that wasn't striking, we shopped the old Clifton store until the strike ended. My mom adored that little store, as polished of a turd it was.

    5. I started with Norkus right after Francis died. Even with it being just a few weeks after, everyone knew they'd be splitting up the stores.

      Just to update the timeline, Fischer Blvd opened sometime in 1997. Gerry bought out Don in 1998, as they all were under the same umbrella before I left. Norkus sold to Ahold in mid-2011, but the deal did not include the original Foodtown in Freehold. That store closed, I think, in 2014.

  8. Both Old Bridge stores were part of my rotation when I worked for A&P; the Starbucks kiosk is the same size as it was before the Acme takeover. However, the discount area to the right used to be addition seating, including a few sofas.

    Strong memories of both of those store: I grew up frequenting them long before I started working in them. I'll always remember them like the back of my hand.