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TOUR: ACME Markets - Oak Ridge, NJ

ACME Markets
Opened: 2015
Previous Tenants: A&P (ca. 2005-2015)
Location: 5774 Berkshire Valley Rd, Oak Ridge, Jefferson, NJ
Photographed: July 2020

 Around 2005, A&P moved from a smaller store built in the 1960s and then significantly expanded in the 90s into this 61,000 square foot new-build location just next door. This seemed to be a big moneymaker for A&P, what with the major renovations on the older location and then this major new replacement store. Unfortunately, these days the store seems to be pretty slow -- it competes with an incredible new ShopRite about seven miles west in Sparta, which we'll tour when we move into Sussex County, and seems to have taken a big hit from that store's presence; but also deals with an older ShopRite and Weis just to the north in Franklin roughly the same distance away and then the Kinnelon Stop & Shop just about eight miles to the east. This store's competition was the source of a series of rather passionate comments back on our post about Old Bridge, but at least anecdotally based on my visits business here has declined since the beginning.

The interior is still pretty attractive, but it's showing signs of its age. We enter to the grand aisle with produce on the left side and deli/bakery on the right. By the way, check out Acme Style's 2018 post here.

I believe some lettering was probably removed here since there's a whole lot of empty space on the walls here. I have honestly never loved this decor package but it looks pretty good here.

Notice these produce signs hanging from the ceiling instead of mounted on the wall, which is a nice adaptation of the decor package. The white ACME stickers are not attractive.

The corner bakery is actually in a corner here, which is a nice touch. Notice that some of the lettering is getting wobbly and we're missing the y in Quality to the left.

A look across the back wall. We can see that the store is plenty spacious and has a very nice high ceiling, but we can also see that there are barely any customers around.

HABA in the first few aisles with the pharmacy at the front. The A&P decor here is in good condition but looking pretty dated around here.

Not a whole lot to see in the grocery aisles. Looks like the lighting was moved up to the ceiling from the aisles' shelving.

This decor here looks good still, as much as the ACME stickers stand out.

I suspect that this store's sales volume is probably quite low, since notice that the freezer cases are still left here since the store opened. The coffin cases were never replaced (which surprises me, that A&P was still using coffin cases in new-build stores as late as 2005 -- unless were these brought over from the old store?). None of the fixtures in this store have been replaced since ACME has opened.

Dairy cases do look to have been painted, though.

Unusual generic checkout lane markers here from A&P, and Acme Style says that the registers were replaced (although the lane markers weren't, for some reason). That wraps up Oak Ridge and the whole Jefferson area, and up next we're heading all the way out to the western border of Morris County for two stores tomorrow, one on Grocery Archaeology and one on The Independent Edition!

Comments

  1. Wow, the place IS dead. What day of the week were you here? I remember it not being very busy when I visited. Overall it is a really nice store but it seems local residents just aren't that in to ACME.

    Didn't someone leave a comment rather recently that permits were in the window for construction work leading one to believe some sort of remodel was about to begin? Can't remember under what post that comment was left. I would think this store still does ok or ACME would have pulled the plug by now.

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    1. CORRECTION: Turns out my memory was incorrect. The store was fairly busy when I visited it years ago. I mentioned in my post that there were 7 checktouts open with lines. A couple of pictures show the evidence. Apologies for the wrong info!

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    2. I'm fairly certain that I had emailed you about the permits or posted on Reddit or something. I had heard that from the A&P Preservation blogger, who visited the store a while ago. I was back at this store in mid-December and there were no signs of construction nor construction permits, so I assume it was for something like HVAC or refrigeration in the backrooms or something and it was completed and that's all for now. Hard to say, but there certainly weren't any signs of remodel in December. And yes, I think this store does get busy if only because it's the only supermarket for a long ways around. Just wasn't busy at the time of my visit.

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  2. When researching the history of this store, note that newspaper articles and ads referred to both this store and its predecessor(s) as being in Oak Ridge, Jefferson, or Milton. With that tidbit out of the way, here's some relevant history:

    *An A&P Centennial supermarket at 5716 Berkshire Valley Road opened on either June 25 or 26 of 1968.

    *The 5716 Berkshire Valley Road A&P was closed during the renovation and expansion of the store. It (temporarily) closed in early July of 1995 and reopened on February 7, 1996. The entire strip center was also renovated during this time period.

    *A&P relocated to 5774 Berkshire Valley Road on July 20, 2002.

    *Most of the vacant space in the former A&P at 5716 Berkshire Valley Road has been occupied by Lakeland Bank offices since August 8, 2012.

    I've long been perplexed as to why A&P spent so much money expanding and renovating the 5716 Berkshire Valley Road supermarket only to move a relatively short while afterward. It turns out that A&P did this so as to prevent ShopRite from building a store at 5774 Berkshire Valley Road. According to an article on Page 17 of the April 15, 2005 edition of AIM Jefferson (which is the name of the newspaper), "at one time Shop Rite [sic] had planned to open a store at the then-proposed Ridge Plaza. To block the competition, the A&P corporation took both the developer and township to court to prevent the construction of the new shopping area just steps away on Berkshire Valley Road. Anxious to move ahead with the project, the developer capitulated and permitted the A&P to relocate to the new, larger retail space. According to local officials, the A&P corporation continues to hold the lease on the vacant store and will not sublet to any business that poses a threat to its sales."

    As an aside to all of the above history, I'm guessing that this is the only time when an A&P with a "'90s Steel" facade replaced an A&P with a "'90s Centennial" facade. (Those specific types of A&P designs are in quotes, as I've noticed other supermarket aficionados refer to those store designs by those names.)

    --A&P Fan

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    1. Wow, A&P fan, you're always able to find some really great info. I knew noting about this. Thanks for sharing

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    2. Acme Style, that is such high praise coming from you. Thank you so much for your comment.

      It really is my pleasure to provide everybody with details about the history of a given supermarket. Newspapers.com is a great research tool. I highly recommend that website for anybody interested in supermarket history, as it's well worth the subscription fee.

      Thanks again for your kind words.

      --A&P Fan

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    3. Very interesting information, and thanks to both of you!

      And A&P Fan, I think you've convinced me to get a Newspapers.com subscription. I'm going to look into that later today.

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    4. Zachary, I think that you'll really enjoy Newspapers.com. If I recall correctly, I believe that they offer a free trial period.

      Also, if you do decide to join, just be aware that they automatically renew your subscription (so if you ever want to cancel your subscription, you have to remember to do so before the next subscription period begins). And if you decide to take their free trial period, I believe that you automatically become a paying subscriber once the free trial ends (unless you notify them that you don't want to become a subscriber).

      --A&P Fan

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  3. I apologize for not including what I'm about to say in my initial comment, but this particular Acme seems to be in very sad shape. While the A&P aficionado in me may like how this store still features a lot of A&P elements, it's really obvious that Acme did such a lazy job when converting this location over to the Acme nameplate.

    I was looking at Google reviews for this store and some of them were quite blistering. One reviewer wrote the following: "Horribly expensive. Nice clean store but? [sic] Their [sic] prices are 2 to 3 times what a person would pay at say ShopRite. Terrible. Just absolutely terrible." According to another reviewer: "Convenient for the locals, sure, but stepping into the place feels like stepping into a late 90s supermarket doing the bare minimum to stay relevant. Also, with prices being as steep as they are here, you would think the shopping experience would reflect that.

    Is there some sort of reality TV show that features supermarket makeovers of some kind?"

    I have no idea how well this store did as an A&P. As I mentioned in my prior comment, A&P's decision to build this big store was done so as to avoid competition from ShopRite. One cannot necessarily conclude that A&P built this store because of any tremendous success it had at the expanded and renovated 5716 Berkshire Valley Road supermarket.

    But regardless of how successful A&P was at this newer location, I cannot imagine that Acme is going to last much longer here. If I were to make an educated guess, this Acme may very well close once its current lease expires.

    Also, out of curiosity, are Acme's prices really as bad as the Google reviews indicated?

    --A&P Fan

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    1. I don't shop at this particular Acme, but I will say that if I'm going to be shopping for staple items and not looking at what's on sale, I'd go to any other store before Acme because they're too expensive.

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    2. Yes, ACME's regular prices are really high. They do have great sales and their private label brands are priced really well. I use their app and often get deals better than any other store has to offer. That all said, it's not the store to go to without a plan, app and circular in hand. Most national brand items are priced higher than just about any other store around.

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    3. Gentlemen, this was a fascinating conversation. Thank you both for sharing your insights.

      --A&P Fan

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    4. Yeah -- I shop regularly at ACME but buy basically only storebrand items or things that I have coupons for in the app. And I do quite well savings-wise, most of the time. But I avoid name brands here (and elsewhere).

      But as you may know, I visit many many many many supermarkets and I'm always buying one or two items at each place to get the best deal.

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  4. Seems as though this place did not get renovated...I thought it would...must be why Patti Smith and later 10,000 Maniacs recorded the song "Because the Night".

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  5. In a way it may make sense that they did little/no replacement on things in this store, given that when you photographed it it was only 15 years old.

    Particularly with "inheriting" so many stores at one time and having to do more with some that definitely needed it, then additional acquisitions over time.

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    1. Exactly. This one wasn't high on the priority list. It's still in pretty good shape and it's really not that old.

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