Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Another Grocery Store Closing . . . Wayne Acme on the Chopping Block!

When is it going to end?

Another local grocery store closing – this time it’s Acme in Wayne.

The Acme chain, part of the Supervalu network of grocery stores, operates 123 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland is shuttering 6 stores, including one in Limerick and Wayne. The Wayne Acme is located at 300 E. Lancaster Ave. (Rt. 30).

This week a brief statement was provided by Supervalue in regards to the Acme store closings. Spokesman Steve Sylven suggested that these locations “are not meeting corporate goals.” He further remarked that, “Acme strives to ensure the success of all its stores. However, it is occasionally necessary to close those that are not meeting company goals in today’s competitive and difficult economic environment.”

Wayne’s Acme has long been rumored to be closing but it looks like it is no longer just a rumor. The lease on the property is up in March and will not be renewed. A blog, Acme Style, is dedicated to ‘Preserving the History of Acme Markets’ and features pictures and stories of closed, abandoned and repurposed Acme grocery stores. (Photo is this article provided courtesy of Acme Style.)

Are you curious as to what the landlord has planned for the property post-Acme closing? I understand that the landlord has plans to break up the space and create multiple restaurants . . . Panera Bread, Five Guys and Chipotle have been mentioned as possibilities.

So we have economy driving corporate decisions for grocery store closings but people have money to go to restaurants; what’s wrong with this picture!

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  1. Pattye —

    This may be as simple as market forces working here. As new grocery stores arrive (i.e. Wegman’s) that draw business away from older, less “glitzy” existing stores, the older stores are losing. In any area, there is only so much market share to go around and it is clear some are losing that battle and some are winning. I wouldn’t read too much into this.

    As for your comment re: people having money to go out and eat but stores closing, there may be a relationship (the more people eat out, the less groceries they buy) or it may have nothing to do with it. Our area continues to act (in many ways) as if there is no economic downturn, so the eating out has continued. I don’t think you can attach a direct correlation between these.

    1. People are looking for control. They can spend what they want on what they want….they don’t want to spend on taxes. They won’t reduce their expectation of services, but there is a very self-serving perspective to only caring out personal space and personal wants (not needs). People are hurting, but they don’t want to feel the pain. So they attempt to exercise what little control they feel they have — but demanding no increases in taxes. Everything else goes up — and they cannot affect that. But taxes — Stop the Insanity….

      In the 60s when this area was developing, 75% of homes had kids in school. The population was not less selfish then — just in the majority. The 25% with kids in the schools are at the mercy of people who have gotten their piece and want to retire comfortably. Not sure HOW this gets solved.

  2. I agree with In The West. I don’t think it’s a shame to lose the Wayne Acme. In fact, the Paoli Acme is much nicer than the Wayne Acme in terms of product selection and building quality. I also know many people who have switched from the Wayne Acme to stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods (also in Wayne). I’d actually LOVE to see a Chipotle and a Panera in that location or other convenient family restaurants or local businesses. As long as there are plans to use the space, I wouldn’t be upset to see the Wayne Acme close. But empty retail space would bother me.

  3. Wegmans and Whole Foods. Case closed. Plus there are already two Acme locations (Paoli and Wayne) in close proximity. In my opinion Acme has failed to stay on top of market trends – i.e. high end produce, meats, cheeses (although they do carry DiBruno now), and seafood that can be purchased at other locations.

  4. Market influences. They don’t need that many locations when they don’t have anything to add.

    This does relate to school issues. People fight consolidation, but having 4 districts with superintendents in the same space as these Acmes (Radnor, TE, GV and Marple — throw in LM) kind of drives home the cost structure of 500 distrincts in PA. These four districts alone probably spend $1.5 on having superintendents. Acme is run regionally so they make regional decisions, not store by store. Schools decide parent by parent.

  5. This will soon be the story for the rest of this chain’s markets. This chain needs to dump its union help if it hopes to keep its doors open. No way will I pay their outrageous prices so cashiers and stock boys can earn 20/hr w/pensions

    1. I know 2 different people who work at ACME. One is a cashier who makes $11/hr and the other is a salad bar person who makes $9/hr. Even the higher paid union people in the deli aren’t making $15.

      How can you live in this area for $9/hr. That’s like $16,000 a year after taxes.

      The real difference isn’t how much you pay the employees, it’s the margin on the product. A place like Wallmart has tremendous buying power on groceries over ACME. Even at a lower sale price, Wallmart is probably still making more money off of a product then ACME

      1. Margin is affected by how much you pay your employees, among other factors. And I bet many of the employees don’t live in Wayne.

  6. Virtually the only improvements that have been made at this Acme are electronic: the self check out lanes, the coin changer machine and the video rental box. Acme has done diddly squat to upgrade this store in terms of food offerings or amenities. Therefore, shoppers have avoided the place like the plague. If Acme’s area management really gave a damn about keeping this location, it would have spent some money upgrading it.
    But, Acme’s not totally to blame. I personally point the finger at Radnor Township for the loss of this supermarket. It is IRRESPONSIBLE that the township didn’t go way out of its way to fight to keep this Acme in Wayne and make sure a basic service like a grocery store existed in this community. The whole concept of keeping Wayne a walkable, pedestrian friendly community is an absolute joke. Totally laughable. Meantime, it’s full steam ahead on that car-centric, mega-monstrosity Rite Aid one block away.

  7. What is sad is that the closing of this Acme will really hurt the quality of life for the many seniors who live nearby. It was also a homey small town type store. People like being able to walk to an Acme. I used to stop on my way home from work; it was a small store, easy to get in and out of. The St. Katharine’s parishioners will miss it, too — many would go after Mass on Sunday. It’s sad how these closings change the character of a neighborhood. Indeed, how many more restaurants does Wayne need? Every “real” business keeps closing and we are quickly becoming another Manayunk with overpriced restaurants and boutiques. Even the shoe repair guy on N. Wayne Avenue is gone.

    1. Did Toby the shoe guy really close? I know it’s just a matter of time but besides the barber shop and bookstore, it’s the only “gritty” old time Wayne store left (The Tiger Shop is nice so I don’t include it in that list).
      The place is a giant dump but I always loved going into Toby’s and verbally sparring with his dad. Plus, dogs is always welcome in there (they can’t make it look any worse) and Toby hands out biscuits.

      1. Are you talking about the old shoe repair shop? If so, I hope that it didn’t close — that guy could fix anything! I remember taking a new leather jacket in a few years ago — a nail had accidentally torn a small hole on the sleeve. I didn’t hold out much hope for the level of repair but the repair was invisible! Just amazing! Here’s hoping that the shoe repair is still open.

  8. The lesson from this and the Chesterbrook Genuardi’s seems to be that “homey small town stores”are just not viable in the days of grocery competition from Walmart, Target and stores like Wegmans. It’s very much the profit-driven marketplace at work.

    If there is the demand, perhaps we’ll see smaller, higher priced, lesser-selection grocery/convenience stores filling the “local” niche.

    1. Agreed Ray. And even though Wegmens doesn’t compete as a Regional Store with the Prices of national chains like Wallmart and Target, they have a great marketing plan that draws people in with other services. All the Buffet food, local/fresh grown produce, meat & seafood, and etc. all draw people in over ACME and others.

  9. Private label. Grocery stores like Wegmans are dominated by private label. That’s the only place they can create margin in the aisles. Walmart too. Acme is behind the ball in that — though certainly tried. ACME is fine. Just cannot be that close together. Even Wawa closed the Devon and VF locations….consolidation.

  10. While this was the last Acme in Radnor Twp., it is NOT the last grocery store… The St. Davids Genuardis is located just 1 mile west of the Wayne Acme… Genuardis siphoned many customers off from the Wayne Acme years ago when it opened, so this is not a new issue.

    1. Except that Genuardi’s operations are very tenuous in this region….and that’s not exactly a “walk to store” place. All those elderly residents along Rt. 30 between St. Katharine’s and the Genuardis are a captive audience of sorts. Boutique grocery store and delivery is their only hope.

      1. Do we have any idea how many elderly residents are actually living in that neighborhood and walking to the store to shop? Are we talking about 50 residents, 200, more? I know we want walkable areas, but it would really help if we had some idea who was actually walking to the stores.

        Clearly, the walk-in shoppers weren’t enough to sustain the Acme. Anyone with a car would avoid that particular Acme in favor of more updated marketings less than 2-3 miles away.

        I’d actually suspect that more people would want to walk to restaurants than to the grocery store. Growing up, I lived within a mile of a water ice place, and it was a real treat to walk there in the evening. But I wouldn’t walk to a grocery store even if it was just 1/2 mile away. Who wants to carry bags home? Things like canned soup and milk are really heavy, and cereal boxes are bulky. It just seems inconvenient to me, and my friends who live in Philadelphia and New York get the bulk of their groceries delivered rather than walking to the store for this very reason.

        Just wondering if that many elderly residents actually walked to this particular Acme or if we’re making an assumption that it was a popular “walking” store? It would be nice to discuss this issue based on facts rather than emotions.

  11. It is a shame to lose the ACME but the reasons why have been made quite clear in this thread.

    We have a chance to have a superstore Wawa where the Rite Aid was in Berwyn. I have to think that the revenue from this type of store would be substantial. However, some are fighting this very hard.

  12. Pattye:

    WHYY’s “Radio Times” had an interesting story on January 12th called “Can the Traditional Supermarket Survive?”

    Interviewed were St. Joe’s Professor Richard George and Atlantic Food writer Corby Kummer. The basic premise of the story echoes some of the comments made here: that the traditional supermarket is being squeezed out by high end specialty food stores on one end (i.e. Wegmans and Whole Foods) and discount food stores on the other (i.e. Walmart).

    To hear the radio Pod Cast go to:

    1. Thanks! I listened to this pod cast — it’s right on target, what we have been talking about on Community Matters. My fascination with Wegman’s — closing of Chesterbrook’s Genuardi’s and now the Acme in Wayne. It is particularly difficult for family owned grocery stores to change their model. You know the notion, it worked for my great grandfather therefore it should work for me. But those stores in the middle are really getting squeezed; on one side of you have the no-frills discount store and on the other side the Wegman’s variety that are becoming a destination spot. Just last Friday night, I read that Wegman’s had live music in their Pup (think it may have been acoustic guitars) during dinner as a new attraction. I know that many items (particularly Wegman’s own brand) are cheaper than other grocery stores . . . yet every time I’m in the store I spend many more $$ than I normally would spend. The choices that Wegman’s offers are so far beyond the Paoli Acme, it’s hard to resist. But isn’t that the Wegman’s model :) Still have to say the store hasn’t lost its fascination for me . . .

      Again, thanks for the link. And its good to know that our CM community is on target with the professionals!

  13. Hey there…I live in the Sheldrake building and can answer for at least a portion of the poulation most likely to walk to the soon-to-be-defunct Acme. While still a significant number of elderly residents live here, there are few who do not drive. The building, and area, are trending younger over the past few years – probably a natural trend. That said, I still see the value in a walkable area along Lancaster regardless of the age of the walker. I could live just about anywhere but the “downtown” and smaller town feel of Wayne led me here. The sidewalks between Radnor and downtown Wayne need a LOT of work to make this a more walkable stretch! They are narrow, in horrible shape – traffic inches away!
    I’d like to see a Trader Joe’s replace the expensive, unfriendly, and let’s face it, dirty Acme.

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