Our History

Piggly Wiggly®, America’s first true self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 by Clarence Saunders.

In grocery stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who then gathered the goods from the store shelves.

Saunders, a dynamic and innovative man, noticed that this method resulted in wasted time and expense, so he came up with an unheard-of solution that would revolutionize the entire grocery industry: he developed a way for shoppers to serve themselves.

Despite predictions that his novel idea would fail, Saunders’ first store opened on September 6, 1916 at 79 Jefferson Street in Memphis.

Operating under the unusual name ‘Piggly Wiggly®’, it was unlike any other contemporary grocery store. There were shopping baskets, open shelves, and no clerks to shop for the customer – all of which were previously unheard of!

Piggly Wiggly "Firsts"

Piggly Wiggly’s introduction of self-service grocery shopping truly revolutionized the grocery industry. In fact, many of the conveniences and services that American shoppers now enjoy were introduced first by Piggly Wiggly®.
Piggly Wiggly® was the FIRST to…

  • Provide checkout stands.
  • Price mark every item in the store.
  • Give shoppers more for their food dollar through high volume/low profit margin retailing.
  • 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.