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.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Historical Commission marker series.
Location. 35° 8.805′ N, Touch for map. In front of Courtyard by Marriott. Marker is at or near this postal address: 75 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis TN 38103, United States of America.
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); WMC Radio Station (about 400 feet away); Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church (about 400 feet away); Shelby County Courthouse (about 500 feet away); Forrest and the Memphis Slave Trade (about 500 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"
Categories. • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2018. This page originally submitted on July 1, 2010, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 1,315 times since then and 38 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 of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.