6 Piggly Wiggly Secrets You Never Knew
THIS GROCERY CHAIN HAS A LOYAL FOLLOWING, BUT EVEN DEVOTED SHOPPERS MAY NOT KNOW THESE SECRETS.
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Up until 1916, when Americans went food shopping, it consisted of them entering a store and having the grocer pick out their items. But that all changed when Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tennessee, becoming the first self-service grocery store and even patenting this store format. More than 100 years later, the Pig (as it's affectionately called) has over 600 stores across 17 states, primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. The supermarket definitely has a loyal following, but even dedicated shoppers may be in the dark about certain things. Keep reading to hear from retail pros about the biggest Piggly Wiggly secrets.
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There are some rare, hidden gems on the shelves.
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Have you ever wished you could buy a box of Lucky Charms that's just the marshmallows? At Piggly Wiggly, you can. The store sells containers of dehydrated marshmallow bits in fun colors, just like you'd find in the beloved cereal.
TikTok user @clayy.edward says that during a visit, he came across some "rare things" that you might be hard-pressed to find at other grocery stores. Besides the marshmallows, he called out canned banana pudding and Korean barbecue-flavored yakisoba noodles.
According to editors at Southern Living, Piggly Wiggly also has a lot of hard-to-find cuts of meats "like kidney, liver, fatback, and salt pork," beer from local breweries, and take-and-bake meals.
Piggly Wiggly has its own discounted brand.
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"For those shopping on a tight budget, keep your eye out for the That's Smart! line of items at Piggly Wiggly," says Marie Clark, editor of the shopping and retail site Cost Contessa. "Price-conscious shoppers will find the most budget-friendly snacks, food, and household items from the line."
In fact, That's Smart! is available at other grocery stores across the country, too, including Acme, HyVee, Brookshire's, and more. This line is in addition to their other brands—Piggly Wiggly, Food Club, Best Yet, and TopCare—all of which the company says offer more affordable prices than other national brands.
Merch is a big deal.
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Sure, you may wear a t-shirt with your favorite sports team's mascot, but we'd venture to say you probably don't own a ton of clothing bearing grocery store logos. But Piggly Wiggly merch is a big deal, with e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and RedBubble selling it, too.
Of course, you can also buy through Piggly Wiggly's own e-commerce website, where you'll find tees, hats, tote bags, and more—all emblazoned with that famous smiling pig.
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No one knows where the name came from.
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There are few grocery stores with names as memorable as Piggly Wiggly. It wasn't always called that, though. At its founding, it was named The Schultz Brothers Company, according to Piggly Wiggly's website. The name was eventually changed to Schultz Brothers Company Wholesale Grocers, which lasted for more than two decades. After entering into a franchise agreement in the 1940s, the name changed to Piggly Wiggly—but no one knows why.
"[Founder] Clarence Saunders' reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly remains a mystery," the store's website says. "He was curiously reluctant to explain its origin."
Of course, there are rumors. The store lists some of them on its website, including Saunders witnessing several pigs struggling to get under a fence. But 106 years after the chain was founded, no one is entirely certain of the name's backstory.
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Stores are independently owned.
Speaking of franchising, each of Piggly Wiggly's hundreds of locations is independently owned and operated—which means you'll find differences among them.
"There are similarities among all Piggly Wiggly stores, but many regional stores offer a mobile app where customers can sign up for store rewards programs, clip digital coupons, view weekly ads, and order groceries online," Clark says. "Because Piggly Wiggly stores are locally operated, each store will have its own specific offers."
Fully-digitized stores may be in Piggly Wiggly's future.
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According to an Oct. 2022 article in Chain Store Age (CSA), Piggly Wiggly Midwest is testing "the viability of a completely digitalized store." The platform known as Focal Operating System (FocalOS) was piloted at stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.
CSA explains that FocalOS is intended to "automate and optimize ordering, inventory management, merchandising, and in-store labor."