I've had this ominous feeling since last month when it was announced that our local Piggly Wiggly has been sold to BiLo as part of a multi-store sale. It just does not feel right. I know BiLo is saying they will keep the staff, but there is just something that seems more local about the Piggly Wiggly way of doing business.
Folks refer to it as "Our Piggly Wiggly" or simply shorten it up to "The Pig". When have you heard of another grocery store mentioned in terms of pride and ownership? Like never. Our Piggly Wiggly is a little more upscale than most, likely since it serves "The Lake Crowd". There are multiple things that make it a bit more than just another grocery store.
The staff is great. James the manager will attempt to inventory new products if you make a special request and explain why it should be in the store. He is game to see if it pleases the locals. Perry in produce is always happy and asking if he can assist in any way. He always asks Denine if we have company in town since she once mentioned she was picking up extra stuff since we had a houseful of folks at the lake house for a visit.
The gals behind the deli counter call me "Honey" and the butcher shop crew has more than once set aside a select cut of meat that I requested for the weekend. By the way, since "The Lake Crowd" likes to BBQ on weekends there are also lots of steaks, briskets, pork butts, and other big cuts available when the weekends roll around. We have even come to know the checkout staff and Denine kept updated with one young clerk all the way through her pregnancy.
The Pig is a community gathering spot. On summer Saturdays there is a large BBQ cooker outside churning out ribs and chicken. Folks swing through to pick up last minute provisions for the weekend. Sometimes the Coke, Dukes mayo, and buns are right up front on pallets for a quick grab & go. Yes, you heard me right...pallets of Dukes, official mayo of The South and great cooks everywhere.
Even if you grab & go you are likely to run in to a neighbor, church folks, work folks, or a friend you have not seen in a while. Quick stops can turn in to great conversations that take a few extra well spent minutes.
Can these things happen at a BiLo? I guess so, but will it feel as cool? Do you look smart rocking a BiLo t-shirt? I think not. Everyone should own a Piggle Wiggly t-shirt and wear it especially proudly when when leaving The South, as much as any of us dislike the prospect of driving Up North. Even a Piggly Wiggly Koozie or bumper sticker has a hip factor that can bring a knowing smile to the most casual observer.
I give The Pig and the staff a lot of credit for speaking to a way of life...to cultivating community...to being considered extra local. Perhaps nothing will change, but I believe a few months down the road we will all begin to say things are just not the same anymore.
If I were BiLo or Commander of The South I would change all the BiLo stores that are embedded an any community to a Piggly Wiggly. Think about it...World Piggly Wiggly for all! THAT would be saying something.
The other night I dreamed that I climbed a water tower and painted "Save The Pig" in red paint. It was a swell dream. There is no water tower close to our Piggly Wiggly. You might want to pick up a Piggly Wiggly t-shirt before it is too late.