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TOUR: Lingle's Neighborhood Market - Watsontown, PA

Lingle's Neighborhood Market
Owner: Bill and Marie Lingle
Opened: 2003
Cooperative: none
 15 W Brimmer Ave, Watsontown, PA
Photographed: August 19, 2022
There's quite a lot going on at this unassuming riverside Lingle's Neighborhood Market! From the front, this 16,000 square foot store looks like an average small-town independent supermarket. But actually the building has a long history as a grocery store, which some might be able to guess from this parking-lot sign...
It's not the clearest clue, but it is a reminder that this store started out as an ACME. In fact, ACME started its time in Watsontown with a store at 122 Main St (now demolished) in 1939, which later moved to this pitched-roof building at 15 W Brimmer Ave in 1967 just a block away. Like so many other ACMEs in these northern Pennsylvania small towns, the store stayed around until 1995 when it was sold to Penn Traffic's Bi-Lo Foods chain. It appears there may have been some franchise agreement here (I'm not too clear on Bi-Lo's history) since by 2007, the store appeared in a newspaper article as Lingle's Bi-Lo. By 2009, however, the store had rebranded to strictly Lingle's Neighborhood Market.
Lingle's has two other locations, in Jersey Shore and Renovo (a recently renovated former A&P). Lingle's also owns area Save-A-Lot locations.
So let's step inside and tour this store! We enter to the expansion on the right side, which now functions as the grand aisle. Produce lines the right side, with deli and bakery in an island on the left side. Cold cuts and meat are on the back wall, and Lingle's main supermarket area with the grocery aisles is in all of the former ACME. Dairy and frozen on the far left side. As we'll see, although sadly the pitched-roof is not exposed in the original ACME, there are definitely clues to its presence.
One thing I noticed immediately about this store: the decor is unnervingly similar to a cross between Premium Fresh & Healthy 1.0 and Food Basics' decor. It's an extremely no-frills decor package but the grand aisle area looks good. I will point out that this store is supplied by UNFI and sells Essential Everyday, so it's possible that they did actually receive some form of Supervalu-inspired decor when they renovated.
It looks like there was a service counter in the back right corner of the grand aisle too, which now has grocery shelving in front of it. My assumption is that there was previously a seafood counter or butcher there, but it's possible too it's just always been open produce prep space.
Cold cuts on the back wall, and that transitions into meat as we move into the main supermarket building which is of course the original ACME.
As you can tell in the above photo, the supermarket building does not look quite as shiny and new as the grand aisle area. But there are definitely signs of this area's past...
We get just a tiny teaser of the pitched-roof setup here in the first aisle! A few things to note: first, the slanted ceiling, of course. Also interesting is that this aisle is wider than the rest, likely to accommodate the produce cases that originally lined the left side of the aisle in the above picture, looking up towards the front of the store. Notice the cinderblock on the wall, which originally was an exterior wall. Also notice that this aisle is not numbered and the aisle markers only start in the second aisle, which is actually numbered aisle 1.
I'm also willing to bet these aisle markers are Penn Traffic-era. I'm not clear on who was responsible for the expansion. My assumption is that it was done after ACME left, since the exterior of the store doesn't really have any of the key markers of an expanded and renovated ACME. But I'm unclear whether Penn Traffic or Lingle's was actually responsible for it.
I'm not sure, but it's possible the checkered flooring is left over from ACME. It looks not unlike the type of flooring they were putting in during the checkerboard arch remodels, though I think their checker squares were larger and went all the way to the outside of the wall rather than ending before the case.
Six aisles (seven if you count the first aisle, and eight if you count the grand aisle). Dairy is in the last aisle, with frozen foods on the front wall.
As we can see, the store is very plain but clean and well-stocked.
We can again see evidence of the pitched-roof at the front of the store, with the slightly slanted ceiling. The far left side of the store is to the left, and the grand aisle is on the other side of the wall to the right above.
And the front-end is between the frozen foods department and the grand aisle. Notice that the frozen foods department actually takes up most of the front wall, with only four registers tucked in between the freezer cases and the produce cases. I love to see these old-fashioned supermarket buildings still being well-used as grocery stores today, and by the way, we can get a good look at the back of the building from Google Maps here and here. That wraps up our look at this Lingle's, and up next we're headed up about eight miles north along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River for another store here on The Independent Edition!