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August 8, 2011

Replica Of The First Piggly Wiggly At The Pink Palace

By RetroRuth

Even though this is a tiny bit out of our usual time period, I just couldn’t resist showing you all pictures of a replica of the first Piggly Wiggly self-serve grocery store! We saw this during our recent visit to The Pink Palace in Memphis.  If you missed our post on the Pink Palace, you can see it here.

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As I mentioned in my last post, The Pink Palace was originally built to be the home of Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly, before he lost everything in the 1920’s. Because of the origin of the home, a replica of the first Piggly Wiggly store is part of the permanent displays in the museum.

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As you can see, it is pretty adorable. All of the canned goods and products are stacked neatly away in aisles so people can easily walk up and down the aisles and choose what they wanted themselves. This was a revolutionary idea that was created by Mr. Saunders. Before this, the dry goods stores would look something like this:

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…with all of the items behind a large counter, and the owner of the store would choose the items for you. Mr. Saunders gave customers the right to choose for themselves, causing a big change not only in the way we shopped, but in packaging and brand recognition of products. Of course, companies wanted you to choose their brand over the competitors!

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Here you can see a great example of canned goods stacked in the Piggly Wiggly replica. The designs on the labels were so fascinating, it was hard to go quickly through the aisles!

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Besides having excellent labels, all of the products were in GREAT shape.  They looked so good on the shelves, I couldn’t decide if they were replicas themselves or if they were actual vintage groceries.

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And, after the Uneeda Biscuits and Aunt Mary’s Eveready Cake (in vanilla, chocolate and lemon), it was time to queue up for the cash register.  But we had a great time checking out the brands and products from 1916, and testing out Mr. Saunders revolutionary “new” store!

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4 Responses to Replica Of The First Piggly Wiggly At The Pink Palace

  1. Sara in AZ Reply

    August 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

    That is SO cool with all of those old grocery store items, y’all must have had a blast going through there. I need to check this place out sometime!!!

  2. RetroRuth Reply

    August 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Sara! We did have an awesome time, and it was REALLY interesting. Besides this exhibit, they had an exhibit on George Washington Carver which Tom loved and a huge and rather graphic exhibit on the Civil War. A very educational place!

  3. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    August 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Ooh! I love this! I would have had to stay for hours. I notice the display of Octagon soap there. My grandfather got my grandmother’s engagement ring by sending away Octagon soap labels! (with a bit of cash) 🙂

  4. Carole M. Reply

    August 9, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Oh, I would love to see this. I love old grocery stores. On black and white television shows and movies, I always love it when there is a scene of a grocery store. It irks me when the camera won’t hold still for me to read those hand-painted signs on butcher’s paper that used to be on the front windows of stores. There are quite a few scenes of grocery shopping on the Andy Griffith show, and Dobie Gillis actually TAKES PLACE in a family-owned grocery store…bliss! Great scene in A Patch of Blue back in the 60s. Even though we have many new products, there are a lot of recognizable product labels.

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