Monday, February 18, 2019

TOUR: ACME Markets - New Providence, NJ

We're back in New Providence again for this week's first store tour! A week ago, we saw the Central Farmers Market in town in half of a former A&P. As you'll recall from reading Acme Style, the A&P moved to the Village Shopping Center in downtown New Providence in 2010, A&P's last new-build store. It was, of course, a former 1970s-era ACME, so it was rather ironic when ACME returned to the location in A&P's beautiful, brand-new facility back in 2015.
Here's my previous nighttime picture. I went back during the day and got some more exterior pictures, as well as a full interior tour. These photos are from my visit in April 2018.
The new store's entrance and exit are located here on the corner, but the original ACME building faced the "front" of the store, which is to the left in the above photo.
This facade is a little too blank for me. I'd like to see some tasteful department signage on the lower brick panel, like these.
This is where ACME's original storefront would have been.
We enter to a large produce department in the first aisle. Deli/bakery is at the back of this aisle, with seafood and meat along the back wall. Dairy and frozen are on the far side. Strangely, this store is fairly large (probably 40,000 square feet) but does not have a pharmacy.
Floral is immediately next to the entrance, shown here looking along the front end of the store.
Because the store was new-build, everything is brand-new. I also think ACME's photo graphics above the cases work nicely with the black cases.
Spotted inside one of the produce cases!
As New Providence is a very affluent area, this store has an exceptionally large organic produce department. Looks great, but the prices are quite high. Also notice here that the picture panels on the walls, designed here for Fresh V4, are not quite as substantial as the original version.
The entrance is just out of frame to the right.
There is a very small café under the Relax & Enjoy sign. It consists of a few stools along a counter. Make yourself at home!
It doesn't matter, anyway. The prepared foods counter is mostly empty.
As Acme Style points out, these black Local stickers are so much better than the white ACME labels in other acquired stores. New Providence was the only one to get these black stickers, which makes me wonder whether they don't expect to remodel this store as they have many other acquisitions.
This photo is as good as any to discuss the design of this store for a second: it's SO boring. Sure, it's nice enough, but there is absolutely nothing going for it. Remember that A&P opened it as a new-build store with this decor in 2010. Why not open up the ceiling, install a polished-concrete floor, get some exciting colors on the walls? For comparison, in 2010, former Shaw's stores were reopened as ShopRite and Food Bazaar, among others. The ShopRite decor package is just beautiful, and although I'm not a huge fan of that particular Food Bazaar decor package, it's still more exciting than this A&P/ACME's. And in both of those cases, they were remodeling an existing closed store! Why did A&P make this one so deadly boring? A&P's Fresh 2 decor package was certainly not nearly as boring as this one.
Looking back up towards the entrance. The entire produce case to the left of the entrance is organic produce.
The Good Food to Go counter, unfortunately, seems to be regularly empty. The salad bar and prepared foods counter at the deli are both fully up and running, though.
No pizza here anymore, unfortunately. However, I do like the tile backsplash. It's just about the only interesting decor feature here.
Hot food and prepared foods continue just around the corner from Good Food to Go. But if you want any of this, there were only two employees behind deli running this whole setup.
Strangely, the salad bar is not on an island. Instead, it's up against the first grocery aisle, making for this blank panel above it.
The deli cases are quite attractive, and this one is beautifully stocked.
Deli is located at the back of the first aisle.
The bakery is under a slightly lower ceiling just to the left of deli. It's the next stop on the perimeter.
The bakery department needs some help with its n and its y. It's also really hidden back here and this section, being a dead-end, feels very isolated. It also feels slightly cavelike, with the low ceiling and dim lighting.
An overview of the deli/bakery area. Seafood is just out of frame to the left. We see the same problem in seafood as we do in prepared foods...
Beautifully stocked with no customers or employees. The turnover has to be really low here. I'm not sure that I really would want to buy seafood in a store like this.
The butcher is located just around the corner from seafood, which faces bakery. It's significantly larger than the average chain supermarket butcher counter.
We also see evidence of human life behind the butcher counter. Still no customers, though.
A look down the back wall. Dairy is on the far end.
Quick detour into the grocery aisles, which are pretty standard. I do like the black shelving, though.
Here you can see the seafood counter located along the back wall of the store.
If you zoom into the above picture, you will see the decals clearly that ACME put over the A&P logo.
It seems to me that, although the butcher counter is pretty substantial, the rest of the meat department is pretty small.
Some frozen meat products round out the meat selection, with dairy in the protruding section.
The second-to-last aisle is frozen foods, although there is more frozen along the front wall.
The graphics are quite attractive, and the black ACME decal works pretty well. The rest of the store's design is just so boring.
Dairy and a small extension of the meat department are seen in the last aisle, looking towards the front wall of the store.
Looking towards the back wall. Although ACME replaced the lighting in this location, parts are still extremely dim, and since everything is white or beige, it looks dingy. If the store had a dark ceiling and floor, it might be darker overall, but it would look intentional.
Looking along the front-end of the store with the additional frozen section to the right.
Jumping over into the frozen foods area. The front wall of the store is to the right.
Back in the main front aisle, looking towards the last aisle.
Here's a look across the front-end of the store from the frozen side. There is no pharmacy, and strangely enough (as Acme Style points out), the customer service desk is actually an island in the middle of the front end -- more like a Pathmark than an A&P.
Here we can see back over to the entrance. ACME has replaced the checkout lights here, but no other decor.
Still no ACME sign, although the white signs they put up are ugly enough that this is perfectly fine!
Spacious front end, although there aren't any customers to clog it up either. This was peak shopping time, Sunday afternoon.
Self-checkouts replaced by express service checkouts, which doubtless are never open. One thing I've noticed about ACME is they don't tend to have managers stationed at the front end like most supermarkets do. Maybe they, to cut costs, have eliminated managers at lower levels or have them doubling up as cashiers.
One last look at Customer Service before we head out. I wish this ACME luck, but they clearly aren't getting nearly enough business -- they're not trying too hard either, though.

For our next former A&P post tomorrow, we're going to check out a store that remained with A&P ownership until the very end, although it was converted to a liquor store.

ACME Markets

1260 Springfield Ave, New Providence, NJ
Open Daily 7AM-11PM
(908) 286-1725
My Rating: 


  1. This store can get very confusing at times, considering it was built during the odd era of A&P's first bankruptcy.

    This store was originally planned to open with the overly extravagant "Fresh 3.0" decor, with the odd layout seen in Park Ridge and Holmdel. It was planned since 2007 when the decor first came out, but was delayed when the original building (an Acme Colonial Cottage) was found to have asbestos- which significantly delayed A&P's plans.

    By the time A&P started working on the interior of the store, their plans were downgraded because of their impending doom (first bankruptcy later that year)- so the store was quickly transitioned to the Fresh 1.0 plan, with the 3.0 framework and floor.

    The reason for the drop ceiling is that Fresh 3.0 practically thrived on it... it was oddly cheaper enough than having a black exposed ceiling- this was one of several aspects that was kept from the 3.0 plans.

    1. See, this is why I don't write A&P Preservation and you don't write The Market Report! Thanks for all the background here.

  2. Great post, but I urge you to take a good look at some aerial photos of the site (and drive around the back of the building if you wind up in the area again). While it is usually assumed A&P demolished the old Acme building and constructed an entirely new store, that was not the case.

    The visible exterior walls along the back and side are a mix of old and new concrete blocks, and the supports inside the building are not consistent. A&P seems to have merely expanded the old Acme's footprint when they relocated here, meaning this structure went from being an Acme to an A&P and back to an Acme.

    You'll see what I mean if you go to Historic Aerials. Use the slide tool in the layer comparison menu (it's on the left side of the screen)- comparing 2012 to 1987 makes it easy to see what I'm talking about.

    1. Wow, you're right. Never noticed that. Thanks for pointing it out!