Skip to main content

TOUR: Chelten Market IGA - Germantown, Philadelphia, PA

Chelten Market IGA
Owner: Young Kim
Opened: 2017
Cooperative: IGA
Location:
 176 W Chelten Ave, Germantown, Philadelphia, PA
Photographed: July 2021
Fans of Pathmark seem to have largely missed the Chelten Market IGA, which is as good as we're going to get of a time capsule of 1990s Pathmark at this point. It's also a very pleasant neighborhood supermarket. Let's review the history of this store before we take a tour. The 33,000 square foot building was built (presumably slightly smaller) by Food Fair in the 1960s or so. In Food Fair's 1979 bankruptcy, A&P acquired this store, later converting it to SuperFresh in 1982. The SuperFresh had a fire around 1995, and when SuperFresh decided not to reopen the store, Pathmark renovated the building and opened. Pathmark closed in 2016, and after some light renovation, the Chelten Market IGA opened the following year. Most of that history comes, as usual, from JoshAustin610.
It's very obvious that not too much has been done on the outside, but it has been freshened up a little. The famous Pathmark stripe remains, and the basic structure of the facade hasn't been changed. Chelten Market did paint the facade and add the foyer we can see in the middle of the storefront.
At 34,000 square feet, the store is not too large, but is larger than it looks here (it goes behind the building to the left). While unrelated to the supermarket, the building to the left, which today houses a Rite Aid and a few smaller storefronts, has a large mural facing Chelten Market's parking lot. Can you find the Penn Fruit?
Let's head into the supermarket. Much like we see on the outside, the inside is basically entirely original from Pathmark but just with a few small changes. The bakery department is all but defunct these days, unfortunately, which does not make for a great first impression. You can see the entrance to the right of the bakery below. There were plenty of packaged cakes and pastries and whatnot, but nothing is baked on-site anymore.
But it gets better from here. Looking across the produce department from the front of the store, we see that the interior has been painted and it looks like Chelten Market may have installed some new lighting and fixtures, but it's mostly an original Pathmark.
Clearly, Chelten Market has added some pictures of food around the store but the decor is left over completely from Pathmark, but looking pretty good with a fresh coat of paint. Here's an example of how it previously looked. That's the deli department, which we'll see shortly. So Chelten Market took down the Pathmark and checkerboard sections, but left the department lettering and the panel to which it's mounted. That said, it's still one of the most original or unmodified Pathmarks out there.
Deli and seafood are at the back of the first aisle. I'm not sure the lettering itself was painted, looking at it more carefully. I think just the walls were painted.
I'm wondering if some of these circular food pictures came secondhand from a closed Pathmark Sav-A-Center. Or, at some point, did Pathmark add these pictures, possibly from a closed store?
Anyway, deli and then meats line the rest of the back wall. Dairy is in the last aisle, with frozen in the second-to-last and also in an alcove in the front. The first two aisles have been removed for a wine and beer department, and the third is HABA.
As we can see, this store has some leftover Pathmark carts and some new, green Chelten Market carts. This owner also owns a store out in Norristown, which seems to have gotten some of the old Pathmark carts, too.
The beer and wine department is a separate section from the supermarket (due to legal restrictions), so there's only one entrance and exit, at the front. It has its own cashier, too.
Here we're looking towards the beer and wine cashier at the front, and customer service straight ahead.
Here's the HABA department. There's more HABA than we usually see in these urban independents, but I guess there's a need for it, or they wouldn't be selling it. It's a little surprising given the Rite Aid directly next door.
Aside from a larger international selection, the product mix throughout here is actually quite mainstream, and a lot like what we might expect to see in a Pathmark. Heavy on the storebrands, too, with IGA products front and center. There's also some organic and natural selections.
As we can see, the store is extremely clean and nicely stocked for the most part.
Here's a good look at the aisle markers, which of course are left over from Pathmark with a new Chelten Market panel added to them.
I'm not sure whether these meat cases are new. I think they're not, but they were painted by Chelten Market.
Looks like some kind of reset was going on with juice because the shelves were pretty empty and there was all this mess in the aisle. As we can see, there was nothing like this in any other aisle.
This store still feels strongly like a Pathmark, which I think works in its favor since people in this neighborhood seemed to rely on Pathmark. It looks like the flooring may have been refinished, but it wasn't replaced.
Obligatory aisle 12 photo.
They seem to be taking merchandising tips from Pathmark, too, with a full selection of paper goods and housewares. Other Pathmark replacements, such as Food Bazaar and SuperFresh, cut down on these items in favor of larger international departments.
Freshly painted frozen foods aisle at the end of the store. Milk and eggs (now just milk; eggs are in the dairy aisle) are at the back of the last aisles.
These cases look new. I believe -- though I could be wrong -- that Pathmark had open cases here that could be stocked from behind.
Dairy continues along the outside of the last aisle, with cold cuts and eggs in the side facing. Is that similar to how Pathmarks were set up? Did Pathmark consider cold cuts to be meat or dairy?
And in the front corner we have the rest of the frozen foods, with the bread alcove up next to the left of this area.
Again, all the walls were painted by Chelten Market. I like the color scheme here but the decor could be improved.
And a look across the front end. Much like the initial ACME conversions, this store simply removed "Pathmark" and left it with "Thank you for shopping." I guess it works well enough.
That's all for this Chelten Market, which was a fun stop because of its Pathmark heritage but also seems to be a solid, well-run neighborhood supermarket. We're not leaving the area just yet -- we're going to check out a former supermarket a block and a half west tomorrow on Grocery Archaeology!

Comments

  1. I was just there in July. ( https://youtu.be/U7fFbIbC6yE ) I thought the circular pictures on the walls were from an A&P Pathmark Sav-A-Center!

    ReplyDelete
  2. To be technical, the Pathmark would have closed in 2015 (though possibly as late as Thanksgiving, which is when the final stores closed). So, not quite 2016, but maybe only a month before that year started : )

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment