Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Piggly Wiggly

Marker ID: THC 4E 110
Location: at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and 2nd Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 8.805    W 090° 3.054
  35.14675    -90.0509
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


With a brass band, a beauty contest, flowers for the ladies, and balloons for the children, Clarence Saunders of Memphis opened the first Piggly Wiggly, America's first completely self-service grocery store, at 79 Jefferson Avenue (1/2 block west of here) on Sept. 6, 1916. In conventional stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who fetched goods, ground coffee beans, measured flour and sugar, and then added the bills in pencil on the back of sacks. At Piggly Wiggly, customers entered through a turnstile, filled their own baskets as they walked through a maze of shelves containing hundreds of products, and had their bills figured by clerks with adding machines. Saunders received patents for many of his innovative designs. By 1921, his company, Piggly Wiggly Corporation, had franchised stores in 200 cities in 40 states, with combined annual sales of $60 million. In only five years, Saunders had revolutionized the U.S. grocery industry.

Erected by Tennessee Historical Commission.