ACME was founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by two Irish immigrants, Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford in South Philadelphia.

Etymology: The root of the word Acme is thought to originate from the Greeks ‘akme,’ which meant ‘highest point’ or ‘peak.’ Its use is traced to around the 1560’s. The year 1917 saw a merger of Acme and four other grocery stores in the Philadelphia area, which gave birth to the American Stores brand. The new American Stores introduced a logo that resembled a teardrop or fish eye to some. This logo was used in many of the American Stores branded shops that were sprouting up in Philadelphia and gave stiff competition to The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which had stores on the East Coast and New Orleans.

Between 1961 and the early 1980’s the Acme chain of stores expanded through acquisitions of other stores such as Food Fair, Penn Fruit and a few Kmart Foods stores. The acquisitions of Food Fair took place even as the company was sold in 1979 to another firm that kept trading with the name. Ownership changed hands to Albertsons, another grocery chain in 1999 and this chain was in turn acquired by Supervalu Inc. This was a Minnesota based grocery chain in 2006. Acme is now a subsidiary of Supervalu Inc. This, on the other hand, has about 117 stores with its brand name.

The brand now has its operations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.

With the intense competition from big-box retailers such as Target Corp., Walmart, and in their backyard, Food Basics and Bottom Dollar, the Acme stores are said to be having a hard time. Coupled with increased costs and the harsh economic conditions, the stores may just be facing tougher times ahead.