“Piggly Wiggly is an innovator in the grocery industry,” he says.
“It is good to be part of a program like this with an innovator in
the industry. They may not have the widespread reputation of it,
but they really are, and for us we were very fortunate.”
Each Piggly Wiggly store is unique and tailored to its community,
Bullard notes, citing the new Piggly Wiggly Crestline Village as an
example. “I would consider Crestline to be the most affluent area
in Alabama and we just put in a very high-end store. It is doing
very well,” he says.
Naseem Ajlouny, Crestiline store co-owner, and David Bullard, president
and CEO of Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co.
The Birmingham, Ala., neighborhood of million-dollar mansions on shady hilly streets had a Piggly Wiggly for more than 30
years, but it was shuttered in 2014 when the landlord did not renew
the lease, pushing it out for a CVS/Pharmacy.
Crestline residents did not take the loss lying down. Manicured
lawns started sprouting “Save the Pig! Save our Village!” signs and
a “Save the Pig” Facebook page earned thousands of likes.
The store’s owners—Andy Virciglio and brothers Naseem and
Basim Ajlouny—hired a realtor and purchased six individual lots
in the heart of the village’s downtown to build a new Pig. One of
the parcels included the Girl Scout Hut building, which the owners paid to renovate and move to a nearby lot.
Opened in May, at more than 28,000 square-feet, the new store
is about one and a half times larger than its predecessor. Its charming red brick exterior and asphalt shingled roof blends in well with
the neighborhood. To create more selling floor, the stock room
and offices were put on the second floor. In addition to Piggly
Wiggly’s typical grocery products sold at competitive prices,
Crestline boasts a service butcher, self-service Red Diamond coffee bar, and a wine and craft beer department that looks like a tasting room in a Napa Valley winery.
Craft beers are sold on-tap by the growler, while high-end
wines, some with price tags of more than $489, are merchandised
lying down from behind a glass case with sliding doors.
On the other end of the spectrum, about 10 percent of Piggly
Wiggly Alabama’s store base operates on the Cost Plus format,
where consumers pay the same price the store pays for the merchandise, plus 10 percent.
Piggly Wiggly Alabama is a true cooperative with no corporately owned stores, Bullard says, and as such members are free to
supplement their stock with locally sourced grocery, produce and
perishables, and even $489 bottles of wine.
“We try to buy as efficiently as we can,” Bullard says. “We pro-
vide other services including advertising, retail accounting, com-
puter services. We have a team of about 35 field personnel that are
out every day in our stores across the Southeast consulting in areas
of grocery, meat, produce, HBA. We also have a sales force as we’re
always trying to grow our business as well.”
Because Piggly Wiggly Alabama has a reputation of operating a
lean business model with low overhead, its cost of goods are very
low, with minimal delivery fees, Bullard says.
“One of the things that our operators like about buying from
us is that it is simple,” Bullard says. “They know we are not a shell
game. We don’t play games with high prices here and low prices
there. We’re low-cost across the board.
“We’re very transparent in our operation. We are really good
at going into a town or even a metropolitan area and helping that