Clarence Saunders

Clarence Saunders
PHOTO: Library of Congress


You may have seen a grocery store called Piggly Wiggly; a few of them are still around.

What most people today don’t know is that Piggly Wiggly was the first great grocery store chain. It was started in September 1916 by a Memphis man named Clarence Saunders.

Piggly Wiggly stores were different than other grocery stores of its era. From its inception it was successful. Each store was identical, with each product in the same location in each store. The stores had one-way aisles to expedite traffic and create order. Piggly Wiggly also advertised heavily. By 1922 there were 1,200 Piggly Wiggly locations in the United States, making it the largest grocery store chain in the country by far.

The original Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis

Saunders later lost control of his company and started another grocery store chain called, oddly enough, Sole Owner of my Name. That chain closed during the Great Depression.

You can read more about Clarence Saunders and the Piggly Wiggly saga on the Memphis history page.

Today Saunders’ former home, the Pink Palace, is a museum. Click here to be taken to its web site.