Piggly Wiggly stores, a staple grocer in southern U.S. states, is selling off 29 of their locations to BiLo Holdings and Teeter Harris. The Savannah Morning News is reporting Sept. 14 that locations in South Carolina and Georgia, owned by family business Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., will be sold by the end of the year.
Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings, said he looks forward to “welcoming these new associates to the Bi-Lo Holdings family and to building on the strength of these stores,” Onstead said. “We will continue to fine-tune our company and network of stores so that we can reinvest in what matters most for our customers.”
Piggly Wiggly stores first opened in southern markets in 1916, and were one of the first true self-service grocery stores – offering customers the ability to walk though aisles and select items themselves, as opposed to providing their local grocer with a list. The self-service style brought instant importance to packaging and brand recognition.
The Charleston-based grocer Piggly Wiggly was a pioneer in many other grocery store firsts: providing checkout stands to customers, marking each item with a price, offering shopping carts and the use of refrigerated cases to keep produce fresh.
None of the 29 stores are expected to be shut down permanently. Most locations will be closed for a few days sometime this fall, and will reopen after a changeover and new training. Pharmacies are expected to remain open during the transition. The 1,200 employees working at the affected locations are expected to be retained by the new owners, who have yet to decide on a possible name change.
“It’s bittersweet for us,” Piggly Wiggly spokesman Christopher Ibsen said Thursday. “There is a certain measure of sadness that the company will have a very different profile in the Charleston community than it’s had in the past 66 years.”