Building on its 100-year history in the grocery business, Piggly Wiggly Midwest continues to grow the Piggly Wiggly banner. Currently the Company operates corporate stores and services independent franchisees under a chain-style program. This program combines the strength and consistency of chain style centralized buying and merchandising with the locally tailored entrepreneurial management [skills, charm, hospitality and attention] of a community-based retailer.
The Company grew from its modest beginnings as “The Schultz Brothers Company” in 1911 throughout that decade and by 1920, the name was changed to “Schultz Brothers Company Wholesale Grocers.”
The Company’s growth continued so that in 1946 the Company broadened its grocery distribution services to include fresh produce and frozen foods. With a new facility, along with new produce and frozen food departments, the Company was able to offer “Buy Low,” the voluntary retail group it was servicing, a greater selection of food products.
In 1949, the Company entered into a franchise agreement enabling it to use the “Piggly Wiggly” name for the first time in southern and eastern Wisconsin. The nucleus of the present 100+ store retail group traces its origin to the early Piggly Wiggly franchisers located in Sturgeon Bay, Manitowoc, Green Bay, and Kaukauna.
With the continued growth, the Company recognized the need to have a strong nationally accepted private label program. In order to accomplish this, in the mid-1950’s, the company became a member of a large purchasing cooperative known as Topco Associates, Inc. Today, the Piggly Wiggly stores are still part of the Topco coop, offering the finest store brands products under the Food Club, Valu Time and Top Care labels.
Later that same decade, the Company purchased a facility in 1957 on what would become the site of the current twenty-acre distribution center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Today the Company’s three distribution centers supplies grocery, produce, frozen, dairy, health and beauty care and general merchandise to the Piggly Wiggly stores.
Five years later, in 1962, the Company purchased the “Sav-O Corporation,” a company engaged in the trading stamp business. The Sav-O Corporation was then merged with Schultz Brothers Company to form “Schultz Sav-O Stores, Inc.”
This newly combined Company was an early and successful pioneer in the use of a highly sophisticated electronic marketing/customer relationship program. Launched in 1995 and fully implemented in less than two years, the Piggly Wiggly Preferred Club Card Marketing Program was one of the first in the nation to link pricing incentives from national manufacturers to retail-specific promotional initiatives in a single database-driven program.
At the end of 1998 the Company negotiated a greatly expanded marketing area for re-franchising Piggly Wiggly Supermarkets. Our territory now includes all of Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and portions of Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa. In all, the Piggly Wiggly marketing area is comprised of a total of 129 counties.
In May of 2001 Schultz Sav-O Stores, Inc. changed its name to “Fresh Brands, Inc.”
Then, in late February 2006, the new Company went from being a publicly held to a privately held company when Paul Butera, the Chairman of the Chicagoland grocery cooperative Certified Grocer’s Midwest, Inc. led a group of Certified members in forming “Certifresh Holdings, Inc.” to acquire the Company. That same year, Piggly Wiggly launched Pig Points, the exciting fuel discounts program that allows customers to pay as little as one cent per gallon of gas. Customers earn fuel discounts by using their Piggly Wiggly Preferred Club Card when purchasing any of the thousands specially-marked Pig Points products throughout participating Piggly Wiggly stores. Fuel discounts can be redeemed at participating fuel partners.
In September of 2007, approximately 18 months after the Certifresh acquisition took the Company private, Paul Butera joined by members of his family purchased the Company from Certifresh. Paul Butera, a Chicagoland grocer since opening his first store in 1962, brought his experience and knowledge as the owner/operator of “Butera Market,” one of Chicagoland’s oldest and largest independent grocery chains, to Sheboygan, WI. With the help of the Piggly Wiggly team of officers, supervisors, management and store personnel, he applied his skills in buying, advertising, marketing, store designing and layout planning to all facets of the business and embarked upon an aggressive advertising and expansion campaign.
In January of 2009, the Company changed its name again to its current name, Piggly Wiggly Midwest.
Operating with chain-style buying efficiencies and consistent merchandising, the Company has developed a highly sophisticated marketing program, which gives its retailers unique competitive advantages. The Company is confident this highly effective business model, referred to as “The Program”, is capable of being successfully replicated enabling further growth of Piggly Wiggly banner.
All in a Name
Clarence Saunders’ (the original founder) reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly ® remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders’ reply was, “So people will ask that very question.” He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered.