ACME Expanding Despite Plastic Bag Ban


ACME Supermarket on Washington Avenue in Chestertown plans to expand on both sides into space currently leased by Parts Plus and Pip’s Liquors. The two retailers will be relocated in the shopping center.

“Anything that brings more business to the shopping center is good for everybody,” said Tom Pippin, who has owned and operated Pip’s Liquors at the Washington Avenue shopping center for 37 years.

A plan still in negotiations with the landlord, The Cordish Company, will relocate Pip’s to two store fronts immediately next to Roses–while Parts Plus will be relocated to two store fronts separated by other retailers.

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The retail parts and supplies portion of Parts Plus will be relocated to the old Dollar Tree location, and the service garage will be moved to the north end of the same strip, near the new Dollar Tree location, which opened in the last few months.

The roof at the new garage location will need to be raised to make room for the car lifts, according to an employee of Parts Plus.

The Cordish Company has always been very accommodating, said Pippin. He said his store has been moved before at the shopping center. “They’ve always been very good to work with.”

The store manager at ACME was not allowed to comment on the expansion, which could take 12-18 months–depending on how fast Pip’s and Parts Plus can be settled into their new spaces.

ACME’s expansion plan comes 8 months after the chain said it may close its doors if a plastic bag ban went into effect on Jan. 19 of this year—forcing retailers to use more expensive paper bags.

Letters to Editor

  1. Carla Massoni says:

    Great news! Congratulations to Mayor Margo Bailey. “Despite” all the rage – the economy carries on!!

    • MBTroup says:

      Yes good news, but I’m sorry Carla (and Dan to some degree). Though you deserve our respect, I can only summarize your sentiment here as Pollyannaish. Anyone citing the bag ban as a positive economic force is certainly implementing correlation without causation. It’s no different than the yahoos who were saying the ban caused the Super Fresh bankruptcy (a fact thus far neglected is that SF was still around when ACME was flapping its wings last year). If anything, the lack of commerce at the plaza has forced the hand of the owner and its occupants to restructure for survival. Now if the Mayor struck a property tax deal with Cordish that provided for limiting vacancies and improving the perception of KP, then I’ll join the chorus (figuratively – you don’t want to hear me sing).

      • Steve Payne says:

        Do you really believe that the expansion of Acme and Dollar Tree and the relocation of Verizon to Kent Plaza is an act of desperation due to lack of commerce?
        The county should have cut the owners property taxes and imposed some sort of requirement that they magically produce occupants?

        • MBTroup says:

          That’s a twisting of my words. It’s an act of necessity because there does not exist a market to support the number of businesses needed to fill the vacancies. I believe we agree on this point. What I said was that if this were done with the M&C at the point, then they should be congratulated; however, the bag ban has nothing to do with this.

          • Steve Payne says:

            I agree that the market hasn’t been able to keep all the space full. But stores expand because they need the space due to sales or they feel the market will support it.
            The larger Acme will generate even more customers and this should help with leasing of the vacants and hopefully trigger the needed rehab. Maybe it will even generate more RE tax income!
            If I were Cordish I’d buy the Wash College piece across the street too in order to control it and maybe even use it for storm water management.
            The bag ban doesn’t have anything to do with it I’m sure but Acme is rolling with the Green program:


          • MBTroup says:

            Steve, hope you get this. The site only allows so many replies.

            I think it’s great that the existing stores are willing and able to pick up some slack. On the spectrum of good, better, and best I would say this is better. “Best” is cultivating an environment whereby the hundreds of kids who play baseball, soccer, and lacrosse can get cleats and shinguards inside the State’s border. I’m sure you can think of a substitute product that hammers home the same point.

            “Best” isn’t just a Mayor thing. It isn’t just a Cordish thing. It isn’t just a Commissioners thing. It isn’t just a 36th delegation thing. It’s a unifying voice thing. Whether it emerges from the aforementioned group, or from the peanut gallery is TBD.

            As always, we got off track in my attempt to show skepticism about causes and effects that are matter-of-factly linked.

          • Steve Payne says:

            Michael, I don’t think there’s anything the politicians can do. Taxes are a very small part of a owners or tenants costs. What we need is more people and higher average incomes.
            I know what you mean about sporting goods. It’s all done my mail order or Sports Authority now.

          • Steve Payne says:

            I mean online sales.

          • MBTroup says:

            I followed:-) Let’s face it…something would be seriously wrong if you can’t go to Kent Plaza to get a pair of sneakers, but you could go there to select a Russian bride.

  2. Steve Payne says:

    Don’t be surprised if the whole center gets a facelift.

    • Janice Dickson says:

      A face lift! Long overdue. Kent Plaza is truly on of the ugliest strip malls.

  3. Jan Brandon says:

    The shopping center can only go UP! Grand news…I hope they re-pave the parking lot! The whole plaza is really an entry way to town…and we don’t want any northerners coming south to say anything but WONDROUS! Maybe Mr. O’Malley would put the new re-do on the tourist byway info….Yeah!!

    • I think what this illustrates is that Chestertown is more than the downtown. I certainly see the potential of the downtown benefitting from the riverfront aided by the town’s purchase of the marina, but the businesses along the Rt. 213 corridor can’t be ignored. Jan rightfully points out that the shopping centers are a gateway to the town and really are the first impression that folks get of the town if they’re driving in from north or east off Rt. 301. A good looking shopping center certainly benefits the downtown. New town councilperson Linda Kuiper has talked about the idea of starting a Greater Chestertown Business Association that will get all of Chestertown’s businesses working to benefit the economy of the entire town. I’m hoping that someone will get the ball rolling on such an idea.

  4. I certainly hope that this ‘expansion’ includes a complete tearing down and remodeling of what Acme is currently. It is dirty, ugly, and I hate going in there. Not only do they need to expand…they need to completely overhaul what is there now. I hate it!

  5. You know what would be lovely in that Shopping Center parking lot? TREES!

    • I completely agree. Redoing the store fronts to make them look better is important, but redoing the parking lot is a much needed upgrade as well. The shopping center would look more beautiful and inviting and generate less stormwater runoff if the parking lot were constructed with strips of grass and trees and with pervious pavers. Nicer looking store fronts and a more inviting parking lot will be economically and environmentally beneficial.

      • Steve Payne says:

        If the improvements exceed a certain level then the Town or County may require it since it’s code now. The tenant might demand it or the owner might just do it too.

  6. Constance says:

    I miss ACME and Pip’s both, where we shopped almost weekly during our time in Chestertown.

    It’s almost like you all playing musical chairs with your locations. I’m glad you all are still there, however you all stay there.

  7. Chesa Profaci says:

    I hope they also address the parking! Since SuperFresh closed and everyone started shopping at Acme, I’ve seen a lot car-dings and dents happen in the Kent Plaza lot—and received some too!

  8. I don’t understand why everyone is concerned about the icing on the cake (ie. trees, parking lot, paper bags or no paper bags) I say who cares?!! What’s important is that a supermarket be clean, easy to shop in, high quality foods, and good prices. I think Acme fails at a lot of that. I would gladly keep the existing parking lot…and no trees for a total upgrade in the existing Acme and maybe add one flanking side. If they add on to the store on the two flanking sides, I would think that they would have to TOTALLY redo the existing main store. If not….it’s a waste of money.

  9. matthew weir says:

    Here is the problem with Kent Plaza: It has been in one owner’s hands for a long time. As such, the property is probably completely depreciated so any sale of it would generate a significant tax bill and second, the property is probably completely paid for. Why put money into it to improve it when it generates cash flow that is all profit?

    I can only think of a few ways that would spur investment there. If a new store wanted to come there and needed the improvements (think an Apple store), a sale or a tax incentive.

  10. gerry maynes says:

    Hi, I told you that this would happen. The Super Fresh closed. The volume doubled and Acme had a reason to expand. So stop complaining you ar going to get a complete redo. Expansion to the sides will allow the interior departments to move. This would then lead to the demo of the middle, folowed byfinal construction. All this while thestore remains open Gerry

  11. Steve Payne says:

    Shopping centers are different. I’m only guessing they’ll do an upgrade because it will help them lease empty space and hopefully get higher rents. Plus it needs it.
    Appearance is very important in retail and Cordish is a “real” shopping center developer.
    The new work would be depreciable and the taxes are most likely paid by the tenants so I don’t think that would be an issue.
    Keeping it open during construction is possible. I had a friend that did most of Safeway’s floor work and they would only close for 4 or 5 days at the end of the job.

  12. gerry maynes says:

    I worked at this unit when it was rtemodeled ten years ago and in many other Acmes that were remodeled. The last time we did not close but continued to offer full services under a tent in the middle of the store. While the Del;i and Seafood department walls were nocked out and were replaced with new cases. This is pretty much standard for the company. If its all possible to stay open they will.

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