We know Memphis is home to the blues, Beale Street and Graceland. Few realize, however, that it’s also the birthplace of the modern-day supermarket.
In the early 1900s, budding entrepreneur Clarence Saunders worked in grocery sales and came up with the idea of a self-service store where customers could pick out their own items. In 1916, he opened his first Piggly Wiggly in downtown Memphis – the first of its kind to offer checkout stands, open shelves and shopping baskets. The idea quickly caught on.
By 1923, Piggly Wiggly was the nation’s third largest grocery chain and Saunders was a millionaire.
– Kristie Coggins, The 100 Companies