1916 1st “Piggly Wiggly” opens

September 6, 2021

1916 1st "Piggly Wiggly" opens

On September 6th, 1916, the first true American supermarket opened. Its name was Piggly Wiggly. The store opened in Memphis, Tennessee, and since its opening in 1916, it has amassed 530 stores across seventeen states in the United States. The reason why it’s the first true supermarket is because Piggly Wiggly is the first self-service grocery store. Before that, a clerk would assemble your groceries for you. The clerk would get dry goods from barrels, and oftentimes there would be many clerks running around to fulfill the customer’s orders. Having a self-serve supermarket cuts down on employees and makes more financial sense. Customers would enter, pick up a wooden basket and get the items off the shelves themselves. By the end of Piggly Wiggly’s first year in business, they expanded to nine more locations in Memphis.

Clarence Saunders is the founder of Piggly Wiggly. He thought of the name after seeing a couple of little pigs trying to get under a fence. He then thought of the rhyme, “Three Little Pigs,” and thought of the name, “Piggly Wiggly.” However, Clarence really just wanted to make the name slightly interesting so that people would be attracted to such an unusual name and therefore drive business and press.

He was clever because often people did ask, “Why the name Piggly Wiggly.” to which he would respond, “so people will ask that very question.” After he franchised his store and issued public stock, the company was no longer his to control. Later on, he tried to start an automated grocery store called Foodelectric, but the idea did not take off.

12 Comments

  1. Steve McComas

    I found nothing in your article about which is not a Piggly wiggly slogan please help me find it.

    Reply
  2. Patty Valdez

    Honestly, I had never taken the time to fully read the articles and today I did…and found them most interesting, and I learned something new!
    Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Jeannie

    I love this history . Please keep it coming to me.

    Reply
  4. Linda Parker-Fedak

    First Piggly Wiggly I ever saw was in 1964 in Enterprise, Alabama. My family shopped there when I was 11 and 12. We had moved there from California and I thought it was a weird name! Dad worked at Ft. Rucker for 2 years and we moved to Yuma Proving Grounds (Arizona) in July 1966.

    Reply
  5. bob chiarello

    great background of Teddy Roosevelt and Piggy Wiggly, lots of historical facts here, thank you for sharing this, I will look for your posts in future. Love them

    Reply
  6. Maggie Howell

    They were also in Gresham,Oregon

    Reply
  7. Maggie Howell

    They were also in Gresham,Oregon
    first comment on this

    Reply
  8. Leo Ibanez

    I was stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter,SC and there was a Piggly Wiggly grocery store down the road. We had a few guys from my squadron working part time over there. This was back in 1987. That was the first time I heard of this place. Pretty cool, brings back memories.

    Reply
  9. Dave Peterson

    First piggly wiggly I was in was in Carpenterville Illinois, my brother was a night manager there in 1956

    Reply
  10. Leo Ibanez

    I was stationed at Shaw AFB, South Carolina back in 1987 and we had some guys from the squadron working there part-time. It was just down the street from the main gate. It was a pretty cool store with that unusual name. Coming from the west coast, I had never heard of this store before. They’re well known in the south. Good article, brings back memories.

    Reply
  11. Ulla

    Love the little clips of history, just enough info to remember

    Reply
  12. K. D Dorsey

    My maternal grandparents and my Mom were born in Georgia. My Mom raised in Pennsylvania, but I have an extensive family that still resides in Georgia. I also lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area for almost 20 years of my life. I remember the first time seeing Piggly Wiggly store when I would visit my family who lived in middle Georgia. Yes indeed it was a funny name, and a conversation piece to ask about the name. I shopped their with my Aunt back in 2017, and I will say they had some great deals. Doesn’t seem to be a great influx of the stores in Georgia any longer, but you can still find a couple of them.

    Reply

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