Main Street Life
What Do You Think You're Looking At? #60
I found an old photo, from the 1960s, on a Flemington Facebook group I follow. Flemington is the New Jersey town I grew up around—we were down the highway, so not technically in town—but I write about it a lot, and with this and a couple of other online groups, I’ve learned a lot about its history and its old Main Street businesses.
But first, here’s the building in that old photo as it stands today:
It’s vacant now, and has been for a few years. Most recently it was a home goods shop called Red Vanilla. For most of my childhood, it was a Mikasa outlet, a ceramics/glass/tableware store. The company still exists in some form, but its stores were all closed back in 2007. My parents’ set of plates and bowls is from Mikasa, a set they’ve had for close to 20 years now. Their previous set was also Mikasa. It was a great store. I picked out some drinking glasses there once that my parents also liked, and we bought them. There are still a few of those in their kitchen cabinets too.
Anyway, I’ve never thought much of this building—it kind of looks like a low-rise warehouse or small box store, with a façade trying to blend into the older Main Street structures. It also has an unusually large parking lot. In fact, despite multiple visits and photo trips to Flemington, I’ve never even taken a photo of it. That’s why I’m using a Google Street View screenshot!
It turns out, however, that it’s quite interesting. And it looks a little different than the rest of Main Street—more box-store-like—for a very good reason. Loopnet identifies its year built as 1960. And this is how it began life:
An Acme supermarket! Right on Main Street. For its time, it was a pretty modern store, about 8,000 square feet. Many current drug stores inhabit structures that were once postwar supermarkets, as that was about how large they were back then.
I’ve found a couple of comments suggesting that the old Acme (which later became a ShopRite supermarket) was demolished, but it’s the same building. Not only because the build date checks out, but because you see the same major features in both images: the larger façade over the box-store structure, the placement of the windows, and the little square to the right of the Acme sign. The façade looks like stone in that photo, while it looks like brick now. I assume it’s had some work done, but it’s clearly the same structure.
I’ll be writing more about Flemington’s old supermarkets, and the diminished segment of the neighborhood supermarket, as opposed to the larger suburban style. But this post is just about the building. More soon!
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