ACME Market in Dover will close in June

DOVER — In June the Dover mainstay ACME Market will peddle its last head of lettuce.

According to ACME spokeswoman Dana Ward, the closing announcement included three stores to be eliminated.

“ACME Markets announced on April 27 that it plans to close its stores in Lansdale and King of Prussia, Pa., and Dover,” she said. “These stores are expected to close by June 8.”

The market chain said the Dover location at 1001 N. DuPont Highway is one that was falling short of their expectations.

“Closing a store is always a tough decision, which is not made without a great deal of consideration,” said Ms. Ward. “Like all retailers, we are constantly evaluating our store portfolio and have to look at every angle of the business.

“These stores have not met our goals for a number of years and we have made the decision to deploy the teams and resources to other locations to serve our customers.

“ACME is focused on growing our business and reinvesting those resources into other locations and aggressively exploring new sites.”

After the closing, ACME will have 19 locations emaining in the state (some of which are Safeways, also owned by the market chain).

Ms. Ward noted that ACME opened its Dover store on Oct. 25, 1989.

The store currently employs approximately 85 “associates.” Ms. Ward said that ACME is currently trying to reduce the impact of the closing by placing the employees.

“We are working to place all associates,” she said. “It’s too soon to speculate about how many people may eventually be placed into open positions. Our goal is to place as many associates as possible in other stores.

“Our Human Resources team will be diligently working with each affected associate and the labor unions to attempt to find other work that is consistent with the applicable law or labor agreement.”

ACME Markets Inc. is a supermarket chain owned by the Boise, Idaho-based corporation Albertsons.

ACME was established in 1891, when Irish immigrants Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford opened a store in South Philadelphia. The company currently operates about 175 supermarkets under the ACME name in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

Dover’s city planner Dave Hugg said the closing announcement took him by surprise. He’s unsure what level of difficulty the shopping center owner will face in finding a new tenant. According to the city’s tax record it’s owned by CW Dover LLC.

“According to our records it’s not quite 63,000 square feet which is kind of an in-between size now for modern grocers,” Mr. Hugg said. “Many of the newer markets tend to be down in the 10,000-20,000 square-foot range like Aldi and Lidl or they’re above 100,000 square feet like your Wegmans and Whole Foods. That used to be the sweet spot in terms of square footage, but as that industry has changed, it’s gotten either smaller and more nimble or huge.”

Mr. Hugg said the closing will likely compound the property owner’s position in light of the fact that Toys R Us in the same shopping center also closed recently.

“Having two vacancies in that shopping center I’m sure is not making the owner of the building real happy,” he said. “That’s part of the evolution of those types of shopping centers that have big box stores are going through right now.”

Although unsure if it had anything to do with the store’s decision to depart, Mr. Hugg noted that small European grocers Aldi and Lidl have plans to open Dover locations.

“Aldi should be picking up their building permits soon because the site is ready to go. The site plan has been approved,” he said. “They’re going to be building in the Capital Station shopping center where the old Playtex plant used to be.

“Lidl seems to be moving a bit slower. They were rethinking the size and layout of their location last we heard from them. The plan they shared was for a smaller store as part of a few buildings just north of the Wells Fargo on Route 13.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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