The Union Recorder

December 21, 2012

Piggly Wiggly's historic brand is no longer

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — More than 50 Piggly Wiggly grocery store chains in the southeast, including the two locations in Milledgeville, will continue providing customers with the same service and products in the new year, but will go by a new name — Belle Foods.

“Belle Foods bought out Piggly Wiggly in June of this year,” said Milton Walker, store manager of the Piggly Wiggly location on North Columbia Street. “Even though the name is changing, the employees’ customer service standards will remain the same.”

The northside Piggly Wiggly began implementing new Belle Foods grocery bags and price labels soon after Thanksgiving.

“We have cleaned up our aisles and got new shelf-talkers to locate new prices. We have new labels that help shoppers recognize sugar awareness and all natural foods for the nutritional aspect. We’re still waiting to hear back to know when we will officially transition to Belle Foods. Our new uniforms will come as well, which will be the purple and green colors of the Belle Foods company,” said Walker, who has been with the Piggly Wiggly company for 30 years. “I think we’re fortunate that [Belle Foods] bought Piggly Wiggly up and allowed everybody to keep their jobs; that’s wonderful.”

Known as America’s first true self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly was founded in Memphis, Tenn. in 1916 by Clarence Saunders, states the company website. Piggly Wiggly Corporation, established by Saunders, secured the self-service format and issued franchises to hundreds of grocery retailers for the operation of Piggly Wiggly stores.

Today there are more than 600 Piggly Wiggly stores serving communities in 17 states. All Piggly Wiggly stores are independently owned and operated, and are located primarily throughout the Southeast and as far north as Wisconsin.

Piggly Wiggly, LLC is an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., ranked as the 10th largest privately held company in the nation by Forbes magazine in 2010.

The Piggly Wiggly shopping center on North Columbia Street, which currently houses Citi Trends and Aaron’s, was built in the 1970s, said Dale Allen, market manager for the grocery store location.

“The old building was knocked down and rebuilt, and that was 19 years ago; I’ve been here since day one at this location,” Allen said. “There used to be a Piggly Wiggly in the Town and Country Shopping Center where Roses is now. That location moved to its current South Wayne Street location in the early 1980s.”

Belle Foods is a family-owned neighborhood grocer with 57 stores in four southern states, originated by the father-son team of Bill and Jeff White. According to Belle Foods website, the company prides itself in providing great quality food, excellent customer service, and affordable prices in a clean, family-friendly environment. 

“I want to see a lower price structure, which is what we’re working on now. We will still have the same people working here under a different name,” Allen said. “I’m excited for this transition, and we’re still the last ones still cutting fresh meat; Belle Foods will continue that tradition.”

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