Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

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Ephrata1966
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Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 19 Mar 2011 00:30

There just seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. They seem to select stores at random. Albertsons closed a number of stores that were very dated. One analyst said they closed too many. Most Acmes were done justice by Albertsons, but many tanked soon after. Why? And what about the closures before that? I would think Acme would have capitalized on A&P's Philadelphia exit, since the collapse of Food Fair/Penn Fruit helped Acme so much. Buying up A&P stores would not have worked though, since Acme already had #1 market share, and gobbled up so many Food Fair properties. The anti-trust authorities already had a problem with the size of American Stores. In fact did ANY A&Ps become Acme? New Jersey is absolutely littered with abandoned Acmes to this day. Perhaps that is more a reflection on poorer towns, and maybe some of these were considered relocations? (Camden, Clementon, Berlin, Egg Harbor City, Browns Mills, Paulsboro, Williamstown) Either way, these stores all were vacated between 1990 and 1995! Is that not kind of an embarrassment to Acme? Did they just let some stores get so old and tired that they were too expensive to justify upgrades? Are the unions that costly? Who has closed the biggest percentage of their chain? Acme has always been relatively small, so how do their cutbacks compare to Safeway and Kroger? All I know is that A&P has had trouble because they thought their monopoly in many areas (long ago) would last forever. No need for them to compete. I have heard that many A&Ps right before the Centennial/Colonial era were filthy bottom of the barrel stores.

Rob Ascough
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Rob Ascough » 21 Mar 2011 10:25

A Super Fresh in Absecon, NJ became an Acme for a few years before closing because the nearby Shoprite was too much to compete with. I think one of the Freehold or Malboro stores was once an A&P or Super Fresh? Or was built as one before Acme took over the lease?

Here in northern NJ, Acme had a lot of old stores in the late 90's. Most were neglected for years- the only "upgrades" they received were things like used cases and other assorted fixtures from stores that closed. The only stores that got any kind of positive attention at the time were in Morris Plains, Rockaway, Succasunna, Middlesex, North Plainfield and Union. Most others were in various states of decay and were probably too small and outdated to successfully upgrade and make competitive.

There was always talk that Acme wanted to expand existing stores like those in Jersey City and Secaucus. There was talk that Acme was going to take over some Grand Union stores when they went under... talk that Acme was going to buy Pathmark. Nothing ever came of all that talk. Instead, the company took over a Grand Union site in Randolph, and A&P ended up with closed Acme locations in places like Washington Township and Lodi. Acme turned down the opportunity to rebuild in Pompton Lakes when that store burned to the ground and A&P now has a store there.

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 21 Mar 2011 12:11

Oh yes... Acme also had a number of crappy stores in suburban PA/NY sold off to Penn Traffic in 1995. But I must say it is refreshing to see Acme upgrade stores as they have done so well. Has the Pompton Lakes A&P been remodeled since it was built? I know Acme burned down in 1997, but the A&P does not seem quite that old. And is it possible that A&P owns the Italian restaurant down the strip now? I ate there on a road trip last year, and their signs/menus were written in the lettering font A&P/Super Fresh use in their ads. What is kind of ironic is that North Jersey and Southeastern PA are both very urban, but South Jersey and the Lehigh Valley/Wyoming Valley both seem more rural. All these Acmes have had fires at one time or another:

1. Verona, NJ (1958)

2. Quakertown, PA (196?)

3. Marlton, NJ (1977, Mr. Living Room furniture store, a former Acme A Frame, was burned down by its owner)

4. Sparta, NJ (1978)

5. Swarthmore, PA (1989)

and of course Pompton Lakes was most recent.

Also I made a list of Acmes that closed... at least 100 came to me looking on a map.

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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Rob Ascough » 21 Mar 2011 12:59

Some of the stores made no sense but others did. Kings has proven that smaller stores can make money and I see no reason why Acme couldn't have made their older, smaller stores in places like Sparta, Montclair, Springfield and New Providence work. I heard that the company had very favorable leases at many locations. They still hold the lease on the Jersey City store (it became Fine Fair and is now something else) and if you knew what they paid each month, you'd think they were nuts for closing the store.

There is a Frank's Pizza near the A&P in Pompton Lakes but I don't think A&P is in the business of operating restaurants. I think all Frank's Pizzas are independently owned by individuals and not corporations. I don't recall when that A&P opened but I want to say it was around 1999 or 2000 because it took a while to redevelop the site of the Klugetown shopping center. If you head over to Historic Aerials, you'll see that the majority of the strip mall sits on land previously occupied by some kind of industrial park that sat behind the original strip mall. There is a large tree in the center of the A&P parking lot- that tree was originally behind Acme, if you want some perspective on how the site was transformed after the fire. When the strip mall burned down, it was said that Acme had the first opportunity to build a new store, supposedly at the same insanely cheap price per square foot they were paying for the old store. Not sure if that was true, but can you imagine if it was? And if so, can you believe Acme passed on the opportunity to build there? Aside from a Stop & Shop about a mile away, there's no immediate competition in the area- you have to head to Pompton Plains (A&P), Oakland (Shoprite), Butler (smaller Stop & Shop) or Kinnelon (Pathmark).

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 21 Mar 2011 16:07

Is/was there a Blockbuster in the Pompton Lakes center? Because those stores have been closing left and right. And actually the Italian restaurant was not Frank's Pizza, it was something else.

I think Acme was nuts for not buying Pathmark. We all know Acme has long been a stronger chain than A&P. The amount of market share A&P and Pathmark now have in New York is too much. Acme could have really capitalized on the New York market if they wanted to, sort of like A&P's replacement. Look at how many high volume stores Pathmark still has in New York. Who knows if Acme would have put their name on the stores or not.

Acme could have invested more in North Jersey even in the 70's. Stores like the ones in Sparta, Newton, and many others in the chain were relics of the 50's cookie cutter "Acme Markets" era. And at that time, even Acme was stagnating compared to A&P, Penn Fruit, and Food Fair in volume. The A Frames changed that. But the point is these North Jersey stores just had a 70's facade/tiles slapped on.
Last edited by Ephrata1966 on 21 Mar 2011 17:22, edited 1 time in total.

Rob Ascough
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Rob Ascough » 21 Mar 2011 16:16

I'll have to check to see if it's still there. A Blockbuster closer to me just closed down.

Acme didn't do much in the northern NJ market after the 1950s. A few A-frames in the late 60's (Verona, Midland Park, Plainfield), a few more "cottage" stores in the early 70s (New Providence, Port Reading) and a few more in the late 70s (Morris Plains, Rockaway, Lodi)- and most replaced older stores either at the same location or nearby locations (I suspect the new Rockaway location not only closed the old Main Street store but also one in Dover). Was Lodi or Rockaway the last new store built in northern NJ before the newer Clifton and Randolph stores? Or was Succasunna built in the 80's when the old one burned down?

The company probably could have used many Pathmark locations but don't forget a lot of others were close to some serious competition and Acme seems to have a habit of backing down instead of fighting. I'm not even sure Acme would have wanted all the locations, maybe just a few.

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 21 Mar 2011 17:30

I am not too familiar with North Jersey, but I know the Succasunna Acme that was later Linens 'N Things. All I know is the store received an early 90's Acme "pyramid" remodel and their current logo, but closed in 1998. The real estate website SiteRide (still open?) seemed to be almost an "abandoned" site for several years. Their photos of the Acmes in Succasunna and Rockaway, along with other pictures on that site, made SiteRide like an 80's retail archive. The Rockaway store was built in 1980 (70's design) and closed just over a year ago. Based on the time the Succasunna store was remodeled, it could have been built anywhere from 1950 to 1980.

Rob Ascough
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Rob Ascough » 22 Mar 2011 09:12

The original Succasunna store was built in the 50's and sat at the end of a strip mall close to Route 10, approximately where the moving theater parking lot now sits. When the strip mall burned down (late 70's? not sure), a new strip mall was built towards the rear of the site and a new Acme was part of that. It wasn't until later (early 80's?) that the site of the former strip mall was redeveloped with a Caldor, which became Kohls.

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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by maynesG » 22 Mar 2011 18:33

Hi, Historicaly, North Jersey Acmes were always treated by the company like red headed step children.A lot were tired small relics like Lodi, Teaneck, Cliffside Park and Paramus. Some from the 60!s like Montvale and Washington Township never did any business but went on to do well for many years as Panzenhagen Foodtown. In Bergen county they were around for years, I remember when they opened Lodi nice store, but they had trouble competing with a Pathmark and an A&P.
Its funny, I remember more then one store manager or supervisor that went to work on grand reopenings or special projects from Delaware to Staten Island and North Jersey come back
and said that it was like visiting another company. Perhaps, the stores that were from the Whipany division where run differently.
To answer your question about unions back in the seventies Acme in North Jersey had the best low cost contract on the street. Historicaly speaking Foodtown, Finast, Food fair, Penn Fruit, Honey Dew, Stop & Shop the first time around couldn!T make it in North Jersey. In fairness
unionnized Shop Rite did them all in. We are all the poorer because all those unique and beautiful
chain stores are gone.

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 23 Mar 2011 17:18

Where was the one in Lodi exactly?

Would you happen to know what happened to the Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Pompton Lakes? I saw it in the distance in this picture from the 70's.

Oh yes, I did know about the newer Super Fresh/Acme conversions. The 70's Acme in Clementon, NJ (now empty) was actually built as a ShopRite/Pathmark. This small store must have been on the chopping block between 1977 and 1980 when Pathmark was closing stores that could not be converted to "Super Center", including the one at Moorestown Mall. What is VERY strange is that the 50's "flat top" Acme in Hamilton (near Trenton) closed in the early 70's and became a Pathmark, which closed in 1997 and is still empty. The Ben Franklin store in Pompton Lakes that burned down started as a W.T. Grant. Ironically, the Ben Franklin sign it used looked very similar to early 60's Grants signs.

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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Rob Ascough » 28 Mar 2011 13:31

The Acme was at the north end of a strip mall where Passaic Avenue becomes Memorial Drive. When A&P took over the location, the building was expanded a bit. I'm not sure if the Super Saver awning still exists behind the new A&P facade. From aerial photos it's tough to tell. The store looked very much like the current Acme in Morris Plains. They might have started off identical to one another (although maybe mirror images?) but the Morris Plains store was constantly upgraded as the Lodi one wasn't. Probably a lack of business, and a lack of business led to it being closed.

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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by bobsjers » 03 Jul 2011 23:11

I would have to agree about the lack of remodeling. We had a store in Berlin NJ, and several cases were so old that they had incandescent lighting on them, and they had been repainted with some crappy enamel. They were older than the store, so they had to come from another location.

Speaking of Berlin, there is an empty lot on the corner of Cross Keys Rd and Route 30 which at one time, had a light pole that looked like the kind Acme used. There hasn't been a building there in the past 20+ years. I assume that used to be the Acme, and they moved to the shopping center where KMart is now. That store is now closed, and is the one that had the old cases. I wonder if they finally got rid of them, or sent them on to another Acme.

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 04 Jul 2011 01:44

That was an A&P (which MAY have moved to Lindenwold in 1975) and was later an IGA. I had no idea it had been gone that long. But the Lindenwold A&P was converted to Super Fresh, then relocated in 1990, but closed in 1994. And the real eyesore is the GRANTS/Grant City/Woolco/Michaels/ShopRite/Pathmark/Acme plaza in Clementon.

Ephrata1966
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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by Ephrata1966 » 04 Jul 2011 01:47

My apologies, we are thinking of two different intersections!

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Re: Why has Acme closed so many stores (over the years)?

Post by bobsjers » 04 Jul 2011 11:50

There was an old IGA that closed and burned down years later. That was an empty lot for a while, and is now a Super Wawa. I think that is Route 30 and Franklin Street.

Doesn't Camden County now own the old Grants? The only thing it has been since since I moved here in 1989 was an Acme/Eckerd/Flea Market. Obviously they are all gone now, and the remains sits in ruins. That area is not a retailing hotspot, so I doubt if the land has much value. It would be nice if they could tear it down like they tore down the Atco Multiplex, even if it is just a grass field. I think the downturn in the economy and its effect on the state and local governments took a toll on redevelopment plans.

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