The History of Piggly Wiggly Corporation
“The Original Self-Service”
Piggly Wiggly®, America’s first self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 by the late Clarence Saunders.
Since its founding in 1916, Piggly Wiggly® has played a major role in the history and development of grocery merchandising. Piggly Wiggly’s introduction of self-service grocery shopping revolutionized the grocery industry; many of the conveniences and services that American shoppers now enjoy were brought to them first by Piggly Wiggly®.
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. Another theory is that it is derived from the nursery rhyme, “This little piggy went to market…
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.
Piggly Wiggly Corporation, established by Saunders when he opened the first self-service store in Memphis, secured a patent on the self-service format and issued franchises to hundreds of grocery retailers for the operation of Piggly Wiggly® stores. These franchised stores were constructed to Saunders’ rigid specifications, operated on a strictly cash basis, and maintained a high standard of quality and cleanliness.
Today, there are over 600 Piggly Wiggly® stores servicing communities in 17 states. The corporation is committed to a campaign of excellence and growth, and offers its retailers the services necessary to effectively compete within their individual markets. The Piggly Wiggly® Operator pays a franchise fee in exchange for the Piggly Wiggly® name. The members of the Piggly Wiggly System regard themselves as “the Piggly Wiggly Family”, an association working together with a common interest and moving ahead toward a common goal.
The dedicated business men and women who compose this group of independent retailers proudly recognize their unique heritage; a heritage which, a century later, still distinguishes Piggly Wiggly® as a true American Original.