What In The World Is Piggly Wiggly?

Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store like any other, with relatively few locations and an old-timey mascot. But a lot of people don't realize that Piggly Wiggly has a fascinating history. It is, in fact, the very first self-service grocery store! That's right. Before Kroger, before Safeway, and even before National Tea and Colonial, there was Piggly Wiggly. Rather than having a grocer assist you, you could go to a self-service grocery store and get everything yourself. And Piggly Wiggly was the very first grocery store like that. Piggly Wiggly was the first store to have checkout stands, where you could buy all your stuff at once after gathering it from across the store. It was also the first grocery store to have labels telling you how much each individual item costs. It was even the very first grocer to use shopping carts!

Piggly Wiggly started out in the early 20th century. The first one opened in 1916. Before Piggly Wiggly, grocery stores worked completely differently. Back in the old days, you didn't gather all your items in a cart. Rather, you made a list of all the things you needed, much like the shopping lists we make today. Then, you would give that list to the grocer. The grocer would go through the inventory and give you everything on your list. Piggly Wiggly changed all that by allowing you to get everything yourself. You could simply walk into the store, grab a cart, and gather everything you needed.


This has more profound impacts than you might think. For example, in the old days, packaging meant nothing. If you were a potato farmer or a dairy farmer, you didn't care what kind of packaging your food went into, so long as the grocers sold them. The customer would ask for your product if they wanted it. But after Piggly Wiggly, everything changed. Now that customers selected products for themselves, packaging had become a huge deal! Customers, after all, are more likely to pick a product that comes in a bright colorful package with a pretty picture than a product in a dull package. So presentation, package design, and brand recognition all became enormously important, all because of Piggly Wiggly.


Piggly Wiggly stores still operate, and many are independently owned. The state with the most Piggly Wigglies is Wisconsin, which has over 100 locations from Piggly Wiggly Midwest. So in addition to its sentimental appeal and its historical role, Piggly Wiggly is also beloved as a local grocer. So when you see someone wearing a Piggly Wiggly shirt with that old-timey logo, now you'll know why.

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