UPDATED: Huh? Acme removes its self-checkout aisles

UPDATE: Dennis Clark, Acme’s VP of marketing and merchandising, tells us the self-checkouts were removed to improve service, but getting rid of them was only half the battle.

“The reason is to improve customer service by having more interaction with customers and to be able to help them through the checkout process,” Clark said. The second half is increasing the number of checkers. “Our commitment is to man the store appropriately at the checkouts and move people through quickly.”

Clark noted that the change was part of a large remodel that includes improving the produce section, adding more natural products, increasing the number of frozen items and lowering prices, as well as cosmetic updates to the decor. A ribbon-cutting for the improved store is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, March 28.


This one just doesn’t make any sense to us, but what do you think?

As part of its ongoing renovation under new ownership, Acme at 10th and Reed has removed the four self-checkout stations and replaced them with regular checkout aisles.

Where the self-checkouts used to be.
Where the self-checkouts used to be.

We emailed a corporate spokeswoman late last night and haven’t yet heard back on what the rationale would be. We can’t imagine.

The change was part of an ongoing renovation that has included upgrading cold cases, adding stock like a natural foods aisle and other improvements to make it a place you want to go to, rather than go because it happens to be the closest grocery store.

We’ll update if/when we hear back.

36 thoughts on “UPDATED: Huh? Acme removes its self-checkout aisles

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I’m hoping it’s because they’re trying to improve their higher end appeal. Hopefully this means they’ll be hiring more cashiers. Great example is Whole Foods. No self checkouts, almost always plenty of cashiers. Opposite example: Superfresh. Tons of self checkouts, rarely more than one cashier.

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    i asked a cashier about the change and she said the president doesn’t like self check out.

    • March 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks Obama!

      • March 19, 2014 at 12:13 am

        We should ban all self check-out lanes.

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Shortly after they were removed, I overheard one cashier asking another the same question. Something to the effect of: “Why did they get rid of self-checkout?” “Have you ever worked the self-checkout counter? Nightmare.”

    I don’t think it was very efficient…the self-checkout lanes couldn’t accept coupons…customer errors meant inventory discrepencies…and plenty of troubleshooting for the poor employee staffing the self-checkout lanes.

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    ha. im not super optimistic

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    We asked a cashier about the change during our weekly shopping. Apparently the new president thought the self-checkouts weren’t customer-friendly.

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I spoke with a cashier who said that the official word is that corporate wants more customer interaction. The cashier continued to say the real reason is theft. People were buying steaks with different food codes, etc.

  • March 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    let’s face it, most people aren’t smart enough to use the self-checkout – it was probably causing more problems than it solved.

  • March 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I asked and was also told that they want more customer interaction in the store.

  • March 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I used the self checkout often, but am a fan of the change. I went to the store the other night and every single line was open. I have never seen that in the 8 years I have been going to this store. Lines are much shorter and move faster, and that just created a handful of new jobs. I am happy for the change.

  • March 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    This is horrible. If people aren’t “smart” enough to use them then we are all dumber than I ever imagined. My normal 2 minute wait on Sunday was 20 minutes. It definitely flies in the face of improvements they’ve been trying to make. And stop spending 5 minutes giving everyone
    those stupid Monopoly game pieces. Booo ACME.

  • March 19, 2014 at 12:13 am

    I liked self checkout at first.. But the novelty quickly wears off… I mean.. If they hire enough cashiers, and that involves getting over corporate greed, the lines will move faster. Cashiers checkout all day every day.. Customers might get good at self checkout, but not as good as someone working the register daily.

    And its kind of an insult.. I pay you for your product and you can’t even afford to have someone ring me up? I have to charge myself for my purchase for you? …Because you’re too greedy to hire a cashier?

    I think I like it… But if they don’t hire enough cashiers… I can see why customers could easily hate it.

    • March 19, 2014 at 10:44 am

      I’m pretty sure those self-checkout stations aren’t cheap.

  • March 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I’m collecting all my Monopoly game pieces and opening them at once for the excitement factor. As long as they staff up i’m cool with no self checkout…was always frustrating getting caught behind someone bungling it up.

  • March 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

    If you’re someone who generally buys 10-20 items, there is no way self-checkout was not much faster. If you’re stocking up for the month, of course a cashier is better, but a lot of people who live in the neighborhood go in there for quick stops and now will be stuck behind people with full carts haggling over coupons and Monopoly lottery tickets.

    • March 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m the 10-20 item guy, and it now takes me at least twice as long to get in and out of ACME. It’s horrible.

  • March 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Like anything in life, it should be an option. People who want to interact with a cashier can do so, while people who want to self-checkout have (had) the option. My using self-checkout doesn’t prevent the social animals from chatting it up with the cashier.

    That being said, I do tend think this has to do with people botching up and stealing, but they have to put the corporate spin on it that it’s all about customer service (which would actually mean giving customers choice). They can’t just come out and say, “We’re getting rid of self-checkout because you all are a bunch of dumb-asses and thieves”.

  • March 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Self-checkout was the first sign of that Acme’s decline. When they installed those, they got rid of all the older neighborhood ladies who worked as cashiers and hired high school students. That meant that your alternatives were new, buggy self-checkout registers and new, buggy, inexperienced cashiers. The lines during evening rush went from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. Give me an effective human staff over trouble-prone automation any day of the week.

    PS. Derek, I imagine they will still have express lanes, so there’s no reason to think you’ll more likely to get stuck behind someone with a full cart in order to purchase one item than you were before.

    • March 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Actually as someone who runs in and out of there often (or at least I did) the express lane is the slowest.
      I’d be all for this if it meant hiring new people but I see the same staff who used to do other jobs now ringing.

    • March 22, 2014 at 5:50 am

      Agreed Angela!

  • March 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Have you noticed the influx of undesirable customers flowing into that store lately? That is why they removed the self checkout.


    No doubt they are stealing hams and fried chicken under their jackets now.

    • March 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Probably a lot of theft from the Vegan/Organic section too.

      And ACME has no “corporate culture”, they’re owned by a private equity firm. Either the store turns a profit or it gets liquidated.

    • March 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Yeah and don’t forget the pasta and meatball and sausage lovers of the world! We love our food enough to steal it as well!!!

  • March 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I’m generally a fan of self check-out but if you were using your own bags it was always a problem.

  • March 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I was shopping in this Acme last weekend (Sunday morning) and I overheard two people BERATING their cashier for the removal of the self-checkouts. They were so incredibly rude – so much that the cashier next to theirs turned around and also started defending this. Just saying…don’t be terrible towards your cashier because of this change because OBVIOUSLY it was not their decision nor did they have a say in the matter. Seriously…I have never encountered such inconsiderate fellow customers (especially in South Philly)…yikes…

    • March 22, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Thats why a lot of people still need their cars… The neighborhood is great. But they’d rather drive all the way to the Acme or CVS at 19th & Oregon than chance being around the unpleasant shoppers who are still in the neighborhood despite gentrification…

  • March 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I don’t understand the complaints. It’s a great idea. Self check out takes jobs away from many cashiers and puts 1 person to control a bunch of machines. I like interaction with a cashier, it’s putting more jobs at the store, so you have to wait a couple more minutes to be checked out. Get over it. You probably are the very same people who complain about unemployment and food stamps, now complaining about job creativity. People just need a reason to complain. Fan of self check out? There’s a shop rite on front and Snyder, enjoy.

    • March 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm


  • March 23, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Sad, I was just starting to go back to the Acme. Now it is becoming the time suck store I recall from before the self service machines. One big step back for South Philly.

    • March 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Really??? A stinkin self checkout lane does it for you? Thats it? The entire neighborhood hinges on self checkout?? Gimmie a break cuz….

  • March 23, 2014 at 10:22 am

    So glad they did this. Self checkout was annoying because people are dumb and slow, generally. I love the cute old ladies who work there, they are so sweet. Thumbs up to Acme for employing them. I hope they hire more.

  • March 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Weekly shopping at Acme this weekend. Awfully glad they replaced 4 fully-functioning self-checkout lanes with 2 traditional lanes with nobody working at them. Now THAT’S customer service.

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Considering last time I was there I had to wait for the cashier to finish having a conversation with the person in line in front of me.

    Then I had to wait for the cashier to talk to a co-worker.

    Then I had to wait for the cashier to ask her boss a question.

    I would MUCH rather have the self checkout for those times… but perhaps limit the self checkout to small purchases so the few of us buying 2 items don’t have to wait for 10 minute conversations we are not involved in to be finished.

  • April 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    The first day I encountered the lack of self-checkout lanes I had a splitting headache. I wanted nothing more than to get in, get out and not have to engage anyone. But no, I was stuck behind Mr. Chatty buying a month’s worth of groceries. I’m definitely one of those 10-15 item people because I don’t have a car and carry my groceries home, like most people I know in this neighborhood. I appreciated being able to scan my items in the order I wanted and pack them carefully in a way that would survive the voyage home. I’m not asocial, I love to talk to the farmer at the market who grew my produce. But Acme is a big box store and the staff can’t even tell me what the hell happened to the Bay’s English Muffins (and I’ve asked repeatedly…)

    • April 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

      I like the cut of your jib.

      I too enjoyed self checkout because I could scan and pack my groceries into my scooters removable case.

      Ah, memories.

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