Business, consumer and economic tidbits from DNT reporter Candace Renalls. Click here to view previous posts or additional resources.
Good-bye, Piggly Wiggly
Duluth can claim the last Piggly Wiggly store in Minnesota.
But not for long.
The store at 4020 Woodland Ave. is dropping its franchise and changing its name to Woodland Marketplace Foods. And it’s undergoing a total makeover to boot.
“The store had been through hard times for a while,” said Patrick Miner of Miner’s Inc., which owns the store. “We were excited to get in and refresh the store. We truly believe it will feel like a brand new store from exterior to interior.”
A mainstay in Duluth’s upper Woodland neighborhood for more than 50 years, the Piggly Wiggly store became a throwback to an earlier era of neighborhood grocery stores as the big super markets sprung up and dominated the market.
When Miner’s Inc., the owners of Super One Foods, bought the Piggly Wiggly store in the early 1960s, the company was small and needed the name recognition that Piggly Wiggly provided.
And with the name came history. Oh, what history.
The first Piggly Wiggly store that opened in 1916 in Memphis is credited with introducing self-service grocery shopping. Up until then, store clerks would gather items for customers in the old general store tradition. But in the Piggly Wiggly store, customers used shopping baskets and gathered items from open shelves themselves.
The approach was revolutionary.
In the decades that followed, thousands of Piggly Wiggly franchises were issued for independently-owned grocery stores around the country. There still are more than 600 Piggly Wiggly stores in 16 states, according to the company’s website. While several remain in Wisconsin, the Duluth store was the last in Minnesota.
Since Miner’s Inc. was looking to invest in the store and no longer needed the franchise, the timing was right to change the name, said Miner, the company’s store director.
Miner said they considered making the Woodland store a Super One Foods store. But because the store is smaller than the other 29 Super One stores and doesn’t have a deli section, delivering all the specials and sales offered weekly at Super One stores would have been difficult. The Woodland store’s weekly flyer offers some of the same Super One specials but not all.
But there’s another reason for not giving it the Super One name.
“We truly believe Woodland is its own community within the city of Duluth,” Miner said. “It’s their local grocery store.”
And, as part of a business hub at Woodland Avenue and Calvary Road, it’s the perfect site for folks who live within a couple-mile radius, he said.
Naming it Woodland Marketplace Foods not only continues that neighborhood grocery store tradition, but embraces it.