Four wholesalers distribute Piggly Wiggly branded product: C&S Wholesale Services in Mauldin, S.C.; Spartan-Nash in
Lumberton, N.C.; MDI in Hickory, N.C.; and the largest, Piggly
Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co. in Bessemer, Ala., with $750
million in annual volume, servicing 275 stores, more than 200
of them under the Piggly Wiggly banner. In addition, Associated
Wholesale Grocers divisions in Tennessee and Louisiana;
SuperValu in Indianola, Miss.; and C&S-owned Grocers Supply
in Houston, supply Piggly Wiggly stores with non-private label.
“People love the Pig,” says David Bullard, president and CEO of
Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co. “A lot of times when you
go into a Piggly Wiggly store it is kind of a throwback to an earlier
time, and oftentimes shopping there is a social event.”
By “throwback” Bullard is not referring to stodgy, linoleum-
tiled floor stores with manual NCR registers that still dole out
S&H Green Stamps, but rather to the level of customer service.
Piggly Wiggly is the type of store where the cashier will know the
entire family by name and take the time to chat about how the kids
“A lot of times the meat cutter at the Piggly Wiggly is the best-
known guy in the community,” Bullard says. “We are known for
our meat. We are the 10th largest Certified Angus Beef distributor
in the country, and the individual cuts that you can get at a Piggly
Wiggly you are not going to get at a lot of the chains, particularly
“It is hard to out-service a Piggly Wiggly,” George says. “Piggly
Wiggly has relationships with their customers. They create the-
ater and interact with people, and that is what being a small-town
retailer is all about. They have a better chance to develop customer
intimacy with the customer than the Walmarts, Krogers and
Safeways of the world.”
Piggly Wiggly also has strong relationships with its suppliers.
Case in point, Kysor/Warren, the Columbus, Ga.-based refriger-
ation manufacturer, used a new Piggly Wiggly in its hometown
operated by JTM Corp., an operator of 19 Piggly Wiggly stores,
to install its new ammonia-CO2 cascade alternative refrigeration
system. Since the store opened in September 2015, it won a Green
Chill Best of the Best Award and cut its energy by 16 percent com-
pared to a similar new store.
“We approached JTM because they are local to Columbus and
we’ve worked with them on a number of their stores in the past,”
says Michael Lehtinen, director of marketing at Kysor/Warren.
“We wanted to have someone close to our plant since this system
was the first of its kind, and we wanted to keep proximity to where
we have our technical base and manufacturing facilities.”
Another advantage was Piggly Wiggly’s embracement of new
technology, Lehtinen says.
THE 10 PERCENT FACTOR
Competitors are finding it hard to catch a greased Pig—
especially one operating on the Cost Plus concept. That is
where items in the store are priced at cost, with shoppers
charged a 10 percent markup on that at the register.
“Cost Plus is a concept that has really taken hold in the
South,” says David Bullard, president and CEO of Piggly
Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co., based in Bessemer, Ala.
Bullard says there are 35 Cost Plus, around 10 to 15 percent of
his store base.
One of those is the Piggly Wiggly in McCalla, Ala., a
Birmingham suburb not far from the Bessemer warehouse.
Originally a Food World, a discount banner operated by the
former Bruno’s and its now defunct successor Belle Foods,
since switching to Cost Plus, the store has been more than
holding its own against the Publix directly across the highway.
Weekly sales have increased from around $170,000 a week to
more than $300,000, Bullard estimates.
“Those sales have to be coming from somewhere,” he says.
Upon visiting the store it is easy to see why it is so popular.
Unlike other discount supermarkets, Piggly Wiggly McCalla
has all the trappings of a modern supermarket, including
spotless floors, wide aisles, fully stocked shelves and an
extensive self-service meat department. Signs throughout the
store and each department proclaim the concept.
A box of fresh Tastykakes, pre-priced at $3.99 is marked
on the shelf for $2.24. Another 23-cents or so is tacked on at
the register. “People have embraced this and it is a concept
that has really helped a lot of independent retailers compete,
particularly in very tough competitive areas,” Bullard says.