Piggly Wiggly

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Piggly Wiggly

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Piggly Wiggly is a supermarket chain in the Southeastern and Midwestern states of the United States.



Piggly Wiggly was the first true self-service grocery store. It was founded on 6 September 1916 at 79 Jefferson Street in Memphis, Tennessee by Clarence Saunders.

In grocery stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who gathered the goods from the store shelves. Instead customers entered the revolutionary Piggly Wiggly store through turnstiles and walked through four aisles to view the store�s 605 items sold in packages and organized into departments. They selected their goods as they continued through the maze to a cashier. Instantly, packaging and brand recognition became important to companies and consumers. Without self-service, modern branded packaged goods would not exist.

Piggly Wiggly was the first store to:

  • provide checkout stands.
  • price mark every item in the store.
  • feature a full line of nationally advertised brands.
  • use refrigerated cases to keep produce fresher longer.
  • put employees in uniforms for cleaner, more sanitary food handling.
  • design and use patented fixtures and equipment throughout the store.
  • franchise independent grocers to operate under the self-service method of food merchandising.

The concept of the "Self-Serving Store" was patented by Saunders in 1917.

Piggly Wiggly Corporation, secured the self-service format and issued franchises to hundreds of grocery retailers for the operation of Piggly Wiggly stores. The success of Piggly Wiggly was phenomenal. At its peak, the company was operating 2,660 stores and posting sales of $180 million a year. Other independent and chain grocery stores changed to self-service through the 1930s.

The original Piggly Wiggly Corporation became owner of all Piggly Wiggly properties: the name, the patents, etc., and Saunders began issuing stock in the Corporation. This stock was successfully traded on the New York Stock Exchange for some time, but Saunders lost control in a famous Wall Street bear raid, and his company was soon carved up and sold off. Saunders lost control of Piggly Wiggly and had no further association with the company.

The smaller Piggly Wiggly Corporation continued to prosper as franchiser for the hundreds of independently owned grocery stores franchised to operate under the Piggly Wiggly name and over the next several decades, functioned successfully under various owners.


Present Company

There are presently over 600 independently owned and operated stores in 16 states.

The modern Aldi store is very similar to the original Piggly Wiggly concept in many ways.



Saunders' reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders' reply was, "So people will ask that very question." He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered. According to one employee handbook, the name is derived from the children's rhyme "This Little Piggy Went to Market."

Its motto is "Piggly-Wiggly All Over the World". One rival entrepreneur opened a store: "Hoggly-Woggly Only One in the World"

Betty MacDonald wrote a series of children's books featuring a character Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.



The Piggly Wiggly store appears in the movies Driving Miss Daisy, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, and Mississippi Masala. Decoy Piggly Wiggly trucks appear in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.



  • U.S. Patent 1242872 - Self-serving store -- C. Saunders

External links

  • Piggly Wiggly Company home page
  • Fresh Brands, Inc. home page (Piggly Wiggly franchisee in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois; based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin)


  • Piggly Wiggly joins growth in Carolina Forest - Myrtle Beach Sun News
  • Burlington getting upscale grocery store - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription)
  • Piggly Wiggly Carolina Eyes RFID By Mary Catherine O'Connor - RFID Solutions Online (press release)
  • Upscale Piggly Wiggly heads to North end - Myrtle Beach Sun News
  • Robbery reported at Piggly-Wiggly - Greenville Daily Reflector
  • TALE OF 'THE PIG' - Montgomery Advertiser
  • Piggly Wiggly to close Rivers Avenue location - Charleston Post Courier (subscription)
  • West side gets taste of the Pig - Montgomery Advertiser
  • Variations abound for very creamy mac 'n' cheese - Charleston Post Courier (subscription)
  • Time and again - Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
  • ... more news


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Related articles

Image:Wikipedia-small.png Wikipedia article about Piggly Wiggly (search). This article uses material from that article.

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