Acme Markets

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Acme Markets
Type Subsidiary of Albertsons
Industry Retail
Founded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1891)
Headquarters East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Number of locations 110
Key people Robert Miller, Chairman and CEO
Products Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Website acmemarkets.com
This article is about Acme Markets, a division of Albertsons. For the Ohio-based chain, see Acme Fresh Market.

Acme Markets is a supermarket chain in the Delaware Valley metropolitan area in the United States. Acme is owned by Boise, Idaho-based corporation Albertsons. Acme has its headquarters in East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania, near Malvern, a Philadelphia suburb.

Acme began in 1891, when Irish immigrants Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford set up shop in South Philadelphia. The company operates 117 supermarkets[1] under the Acme name in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

As of 2011, Acme is the second-largest retailer of food in Greater Philadelphia.[2]

History[edit]

1980s-1998 Acme logo, the "red oval" logo, a variant of the "fish eye" logo

In 1891, Irish immigrants Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford began what is now Acme in South Philadelphia. (Some sources trace Acme's beginnings to be 1887 or 1872.) In 1917, Robinson and Crawford merged Acme Markets with four other Philadelphia-area grocery stores; and the new company was named American Stores. Ten years later, smaller rival Penn Fruit began in Philadelphia's Center City, which in the 1950s would compete with Acme in urban shopping centers. In the 1920s, supermarkets under the American Stores banner rapidly sprouted throughout the Philadelphia region, rivaling New Jersey-based A&P, which then featured downtown stores up and down the East Coast, and to New Orleans. American Stores' first round of introducing self-service stores in shopping centers was in the early 1950s.

Identity[edit]

American Stores' new logo, popularly known as the "teardrop" or "fish eye", was rolled out in 1961, effectively replacing the inconsistent "Acme Markets" or "Acme Super Markets" script logos of the 1950s; however, its implementation was not used throughout the chain. American Stores' distribution center, on US 30 in West Philadelphia, retained the gold script "Acme Super Markets" signage until its closure in 1993. The complex remained abandoned, complete with sign; the last Acme store in West Philadelphia had been sold in 1980.

The new Acme logo coincided with a building style known as "A-Frame." These stores were meant to compete with A&P, Food Fair, and Penn Fruit, all of which had trademarked architecture of their own. (Larger chains Safeway, Kroger, and Grand Union competed with Acme as well, but only in a few locations.) Most if not all Acmes built in the 1960s were a variant of this design. These could be adapted to main streets and shopping centers alike, and averaged 30,000 square feet (2,787 m2). Trademark features included a full peaked roof and signage that resembled the then-popular lava lamp, along with a standardized emergency exit location. The latter two elements were retained in Acme's 1970s prototype which succeeded many A Frame units. In turn, the A Frame's footprint was very similar to Acme's first standardized building model which had been rolled out in 1955.

Expansion and acquisition[edit]

In 1961, American Stores company acquired Southern California's Alpha Beta chain of supermarkets. Many of Acme's stores in the 1960s and 1970s were paired with a regional drugstore chain, PLCB liquor store (in Pennsylvania), Kmart or a similar chain at the time such as Woolco (earlier centers had a Woolworth), and in rarer cases a department store such as Sears or JCPenney. American Stores even bought the Philadelphia franchise rights to the then fast-growing restaurant chain Pizza Hut in 1968. Acme would also acquire a number of stores from Kmart Foods, as did A&P, Safeway, and Kroger; however, in the later 1970s, many recently closed 1950s-era supermarkets in Philadelphia and close suburbs were reopened as independents IGA or Thriftway/Shop 'n Bag. Starting in the 1980s, these independents themselves were overtaken by family chains Genuardi's (later acquired by Safeway and now defunct) and Clemens (now defunct) along with Giant-Carlisle and Giant-Landover in newer suburbs, and modernized Acme, Super Fresh (A&P), and Pathmark stores in the city and older suburbs not long after.

Between 1978 and 1982, Acme acquired many stores during Food Fair's bankruptcy, including both ex-Food Fair (known as discount grocer Pantry Pride by this time) and Penn Fruit units. The bulk of these dated to the 1950s. The former Food Fair/Pantry Pride stores were replaced by or remodeled into stores with the standard Acme prototype of the 1970s, as were many expanded A Frame buildings and a few former Pathmark (also once known as ShopRite) stores. Former Penn Fruit buildings, with their trademark barrel roof, could not be adapted to this model. Even many A Frames were replaced by the often older but larger acquired stores.

In the later 1960s into the 1970s, Acme introduced a chain of stores that were high volume but in high crime and low income areas, Super Saver, using the jingle, "Acme and Super Saver - you're going to like it here!" The brand was retired in the 1980s, only to be resurrected in the 1990s in Western states.

American Stores was sold in 1979 to the Skaggs Companies which took the American Stores name, and relocated the headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah. That same year, the company announced that it would be closing most of its store locations in New York state. In the 1980s, American Stores undertook various acquisitions including Chicago metropolitan area chain Jewel Food Stores, which ran the "Jewel-T" chain which operated in many former urban Acme buildings. American Stores was acquired by major Western and Southern chain Albertsons in November 1999, which in turn was owned by SuperValu from 2006 to 2013.

Current operations[edit]

Acme locations in red

The company is the second-largest food and drug retailer in its competitive market,[2] where it competes with such chains as Ahold's Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover, and Stop & Shop; A&P's Pathmark, Super Fresh, A&P, and Food Basics; Wakefern Food Corporation's ShopRite; Walmart and its warehouse club subsidiary Sam's Club, and warehouse club competitor Costco, natural and organic products retailer Whole Foods Market, Wegmans Food Markets, Trader Joe's and its discount sister Aldi, North Carolina-based Food Lion and Bottom Dollar Food, as well as other smaller chains in various markets. Acme was market leader for decades before losing market share, as well as the top sales position in its dominant Philadelphia market, to ShopRite in 2011.

Acme offers online grocery shopping[3] for orders that can be picked up at the store. Prior to 2009, Acme also delivered to customers through online orders. In 2004, Acme introduced self-checkout stands, where shoppers could scan and bag their own groceries. In 2008, many Acme locations began adding hot foods bars to the deli section.

In addition to its stores in 5 Pennsylvania counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) the company also operates stores in 2 counties in the state of Delaware (Kent and New Castle), 4 counties in the state of Maryland (Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's, and Talbot), and 13 counties in the state of New Jersey (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, and Salem). Acme withdrew from Sussex County, Delaware and Wicomico County, Maryland in the early 2000s, citing rising costs and increased competition.[citation needed]

In addition, the last Acme store in Harford County, Maryland, located in Fallston, Maryland closed in February 2011 due to being an underperforming Acme store. This was mainly because of the Walmart that was built not very far from the Acme store. Also, in recent years, most of the other Harford County, Maryland stores had closed; those that were in Havre De Grace, Maryland and Aberdeen, Maryland closed for the same reason as the Fallston, Maryland store.

Headquarters[edit]

The headquarters of Acme are in East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania, near Malvern.[4][5][6] The company previously had its headquarters in Center City, Philadelphia. In 1974, Acme moved its headquarters to Malvern. Acme continued to house some support departments, including its accounting department, in Center City.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Acme". SUPERVALU INC. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b "ShopRite edges Acme in Philadelphia-area grocery sales". Interstate General Media - philly.com. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  3. ^ "Shop". AcmeMarkets.com. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  4. ^ "Acme Fast Facts." Acme Markets. Retrieved on February 14, 2011. "Division Office Headquarters at 75 Valley Stream Parkway, Malvern, PA 19355"
  5. ^ "In the Community." Acme Markets. Retrieved on February 14, 2011. "Acme Markets Attn: Dorothy Hamilton 75 Valley Stream Parkway Malvern, PA 19355."
  6. ^ "East Whiteland township, Chester County, Pennsylvania." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on February 14, 2011.
  7. ^ "Acme Tradition / History." Acme Markets. Retrieved on February 14, 2011.

External links[edit]