Why Piggly Wiggly shoppers are in mourning

The beloved family-owned company is selling about half its locations to bigger chains, reducing its longtime Southern presence.

By Aimee Picchi Sep 24, 2013 12:37PM

Piggly Wiggly mascot in front of a store (© Piggly Wiggly (Wisconsin & Illinois) via Facebook)A change is coming to a beloved Southern grocery chain, and it's not going over well with customers. 

Piggly Wiggly Carolina, the colorfully named grocery chain, is selling about half of its locations to bigger rivals, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. That means only about 30 stores will remain operated by the company, along with some additional franchises, which Piggly Wiggly's spokesman describes as bittersweet.

Loyal customers are mourning this development. South Carolina newspaper The Moultrie News writes, "Saying goodbye to Piggly Wiggly is hard to do." The editorial added, "Piggly Wiggly grocery stores have been part of the familiar landscape and part of the culture of how we eat, meet and live."

Why is a beloved grocery chain selling out? Because of debt the company took on in converting to an employee stock-ownership plan, along with the pressures of increased competition, according to Supermarket News. 

Bi-Lo Holdings will buy about 22 stores and Harris Teeter Supermarkets (HTSI) will buy six, according to a statement earlier this month from Piggly Wiggly, whose tag line is "local since forever."

Those local offerings are one reason Southern shoppers adore Piggly Wiggly, which has shelves stocked with favorites such as smooth grits and Duke's mayonnaise, Businessweek writes. 

Shoppers in Mountain Brook, Ala., are organizing a campaign and a Facebook (FB) page to "Save the Crestline Pig," referring to their nearby Piggly Wiggly, which is facing another fate: closure. The store will shut its doors in November after failing to work out a lease agreement.

Some of the comments might make executives at other grocery chains green with envy, given the loyalty and affection for the brand. 

"I apologize for crying through your store today," one woman wrote, according to AL.com. "This decision will certainly impact your employees more than it will me; please know that is part of my grief."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Sep 24, 2013 2:45PM
Yet another casualty in the slow death of Americana...too bad.
Sep 24, 2013 1:20PM
The one thing I like about the pig is their convenience in more rural areas.  

Some smaller towns just don't need a massive store and therefore there is no need to drive 15 min to go to walmart (manipulative advertising for the poor) or a chose and lose, aka pick and save.

Sep 24, 2013 4:33PM
I live in a small town and I'm doing just fine without a Wal-Mart. We do have smaller stores, a lumber yard and a small country store that sells beer. I have all I need.
Sep 24, 2013 1:22PM
must  be   different  piggly  wiggly  stores  around  here.  they  are  thriving  in this  part  of  the  country
Sep 24, 2013 2:34PM
The meat department at my local Pig is the absolute best in tri-county area. It better not close!
Sep 24, 2013 4:02PM

s I grew up, PIGGLY WIGGLY  was the main stay of the working class, as the prices low and the people were friendly.


Sep 24, 2013 2:13PM
This store faded out way back in the 90's where I live... It was a shame too because I loved to point at the pig with a blue butcher's hat on when I was 3 years old.
Sep 24, 2013 3:06PM
Too many Walmart's within driving distance and many Piggly Wiggly stores are in need of overhaul's...They Road "The Pig" as long as they could....this is what happens when you start letting stuff fall into disrepair..you go out of business and no one knows why!
Sep 24, 2013 2:04PM
60 years ago Piggly Wiggly was a national chain and the owning family was based in the midwest (Kansas City or Omaha?).  The kids in the family didn't stay in the business - just took the money and ran - so didn't upgrade as the grocery business grew.  Now they're left with backwoods spots that other larger chains don't really want.
Sep 24, 2013 1:55PM

It was the place to shop growing up but then management starting running it like 7-11 and it was only a matter of time.

Sep 24, 2013 2:18PM

They holding their own in the Jackson, Mississippi metro and the rual areas. 

No hint of change coming for them around here. 

Sep 24, 2013 4:14PM
Regionally, they were here in the Midwest, LONG, long ago.  My Mom was a cashier, when the area franchises got their divorce from Piggly Wiggly.  A contest was held, to name the new (area-wide) chain.  In those days, employees were not excluded from such promotions.
Mom's entry? "Hoggly Woggly."
Sep 24, 2013 5:25PM
It is Ironic. I began my career with Piggly Wiggly Southern, based out of Vidalia Georgia back in 1980. It was eventually bought out in mid 1980's and the Vidalia offices and ware house closed a few years later. Unfortunately over time the business has changed. It used to be a place you could start a career  and raise a family. Now most have gone the Walmart way with only part time employment and low wages and limited benefits if any. . Through several buy outs I eventually lost my job after 25 years and had to start again.  There are obviously many independent companies who pay for the use of  the Piggly Wiggly name so the name will probably always be around. I wish those who may lose their jobs all the best and hope an opportunity will open up for you soon.
Sep 24, 2013 4:17PM
Harris Teeter is also being bought out by Kroger. There can be only one Highlander!
Sep 24, 2013 4:46PM
I guess Jeff Foxworthy didn't mention them enough in his comedy routines.  

Sep 24, 2013 3:38PM
Never been in one, but I always liked the name Piggly Wiggly - wonder where that came from!
Sep 24, 2013 1:53PM
Is that pig costume in the picture for sale too?
Sep 24, 2013 4:06PM

Shopped at their Albuquerque store for many years...No complaints..Remember they had a Lucky Dozen Donut shop next door...13 in every dozen..It was on Menaul near Bekins moving company..

That was 40 years ago...lol

Sep 24, 2013 3:32PM

One of my first memories is of walking through a Piggly Wiggly store.  I'm not sure how well the store is today, as I live in Florida and we don't really have any of those stores around where I live.  Memories..........

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