Bryn Mawr Acme to be replaced with bigger and better one

By Cheryl Allison
Mainline Media News

Acme Markets, with officials from Haverford and Lower Merion townships, symbolically broke ground May 17 for a new “flagship” store in Bryn Mawr to replace its 55-year-old building at Lancaster Avenue and Pennswood Road.

An expanded, full-service store is expected to open in about 10 months, in March 2012.

At the afternoon ceremony, Acme President Dan Sanders noted that for the 120-year-old company, “This is a reminder to us that it’s still a company that’s becoming what it wants to become.”

“This store will reflect our very best effort,” Sanders said, but added that, more important, “we’re creating a new future” with a project like the one in Bryn Mawr.

The last day of business at the store was May 12, while demolition next door at the former Jaguar dealership had already begun. Acquisition of that property will allow the new store to expand by about 13,000 square feet.

Demolition of the Acme building will follow. Other improvements to the site will include plantings of 35 new street trees and about 20 percent more parking. The construction of the new store is a $10-million project, Sanders said.

Among those and other facts, one of the most important to him, Sanders added, is that when the store reopens, it will be with nearly double the 65 jobs it offered before closing.

Built in 1956, the Bryn Mawr Acme has been the local store for many in the community, including Haverford Township’s Ward 5 commissioner, Jeff Heilman. “This has been my Acme since 1962. It’s always been our ‘big’ Acme,” he said.

The development-approval process was carried out in Haverford Township, although the Acme property is actually split, with a small portion sitting in Lower Merion Township. Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov, who represents Bryn Mawr, said the township has followed and commented in the approval process. “With Acme, we work together,” he said of his counterpart, Heilman.

It was a day of memories as well as a day to look forward.

Sanders noted that there were several store associates on hand “who have really dedicated their adult lives to this store.” They included employees like produce manager Frank Tallon, a 44-year Bryn Mawr Acme employee; Jim Bird in receiving, with 33 years; Sue Koch, general merchandise manager with 36 years; and Rosa Ann (known as “Ro”) Algeo, cashier and general merchandise manager for 22 years.

Some of the Bryn Mawr employees “literally have seen children born and grow up in this community, marry and have their own children,” remarked Ryan Noyes, community-relations manager with Acme and parent company SuperValu.

A number of employees from the store are working at the Narberth store and other Acme locations during the construction.

It was a bittersweet day for longtime Bryn Mawr Acme shopper Karen Barton. Newly married to her husband, Bob, Barton, a recent Bryn Mawr College graduate, began shopping regularly at the store in 1966, she said.

“I am a walker,” Barton said. “Every day I come by here and pick up a few things.”

While the new store will certainly offer improvements, “I am devastated that we will not have this store for 10 months,” she said, adding that she is particularly concerned about neighboring residents who don’t have cars and have relied on walking to the store. Other supermarkets are a 10- to 15-minute drive away.

To mark the occasion of celebrating the future Acme, Sanders presented a check for $44,000 to Philabundance in support of an annual food drive conducted by Channel 6ABC, Tastykake and Boy Scouts.

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