Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
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 (½ 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. (Marker Number 4E 110.)
Topics and series. Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Historical Commission series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1916.
Location. 35° 8.805′ N, 90° 3.054′ W. Marker is in Memphis, Tennessee, in Shelby County. It is in . Marker is at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and 2nd Street, on the right when traveling east on Jefferson Avenue. In front of Courtyard by Marriott. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 75 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis TN 38103, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Tennessee Club (within shouting distance of this marker); 128 Court Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Alva Edison (within shouting distance of this marker); James H. Malone (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Court Square Saved (about 300 feet away); First Tennessee Bank (about 400 feet away); WMC Radio Station (about 400 feet away); Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Memphis.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Clarence Saunders' "Pink Palace"
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2018. It was originally submitted on July 1, 2010, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 1,579 times since then and 24 times this year. Last updated on September 14, 2015, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 1, 2010, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.