Two Acme SuperCenters, one on State Road near

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Two Acme SuperCenters, one on State Road near Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls and a second on Waterloo Road on Akron's south side, are slated for closure this fall, company officials announced Wednesday.

Acme attributes the closings to increased competition among large-chain competitors like Giant Eagle and Finast in grocery sales and big-buying department store chains such as Kmart and Wal-Mart in the sale of non-food items.

"The face of competition for Acme has changed dramatically," Jim Phelps, Akron's deputy mayor for economic development, said Wednesday in a released statement. "In this exceptionally competitive market, Acme long ago made a community commitment to serve nearly every neighborhood in the city, even ones that were not terribly profitable."

The changing face of competition, which now has geared itself to placing stores only in more profitable geographic regions, has made it difficult for companies, like Acme to cater to entire communities, Phelps continued.

In an effort to keep up with the changing market, many of Acme's remaining stores are scheduled for makeovers. Acme is abandoning the once-popular "SuperCenter" idea that it pioneered in pursuit of a "Fresh Market" approach that caters to grocery shoppers with a gourmet deli, specialty items and a variety of fresh products.

Acme spent $6 million two years ago to convert the former Acme SuperCenter store in North Canton into its prototype Fresh Market store, which has met with success and prompted the chain to plan the conversion of seven existing Acme SuperCenters and 12 regular stores into Fresh Market shops.

It is not known what the future will hold for the three Acme stores in Portage County. There are two stores in Ravenna, a grocery store on East Main Street and an Acme Express store on West Main Street. Another Acme grocery store is located on S.R. 59 east of Kent.

Local store managers said this morning they cannot answer questions concerning the future of the Portage County stores. They referred all calls to the company's main office on Gilchrist Road in Akron. Several messages left there for comment concerning the stores' changes were not returned by press time.

The Kent Road store in Stow is in the process of undergoing a renovation to become a Fresh Market grocery. The store debuted more than 30 years ago as the chain's first all-inclusive store, selling everything from groceries and health and beauty items to hardware, clothing and shoes.

When renovations are complete, the Stow store will feature only food items, having removed most of its other merchandise from the shelves already.

Acme expects the two store closings in Akron to displace about 120 employees. Company officials have said the employees will be able to use the seniority they've earned with Acme to get jobs at other stores in the chain.

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