My parents always pointed out the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores on family trips to North Carolina, and as children, my sister and I would giggle in the back seat at the sound of the name. While I am certain that I visited and shopped in them as a child, I am only able to recall one visit in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. While visiting my sister for Thanksgiving I purchased a copy of West Side Story the movie, and exited into the small town.
Not until recently and thanks to our fall trip did I even realize that Piggy Wiggly began its journey in Memphis, Tennessee. Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly revolutionized grocery shopping by allowing shoppers to help themselves, thus saving the store money and time. Saunders and Piggly Wiggly also introduced refrigerated cases, checkout stands, created their own national brands, and priced every item in the store. These are definitely all things I come to expect when shopping now.
The first Piggly Wiggly opened in 1916 on Jefferson Street in Memphis permitted shoppers to use a cart, access items and did not require clerks to shop for you. I wish that I was able to shop that first store and see the reactions of shocked little old ladies, but as we know it, the idea seemed to catch on.
The Pink Palace in Memphis was designed to be the home of Clarence Saunders and is now a museum containing an exhibit of the first Piggy Wiggly. We will share some of our pictures of the Pink Palace later this week as we continue with Memphis in May.
Nowadays you can find people wearing Piggly Wiggly gear, and it makes me wonder, do they know about Clarence Saunders and what he did for the grocery store?
Here is a glimpse of an old Piggly Wiggly sign. Ah, I love feeling nostalgic.
Picture from neatorama.com