The pain of losing 'The Pig'

  • Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013 12:01 a.m.

“Local since forever.”

So goes a familiar — and reassuring — Piggly Wiggly slogan.

But at nearly a dozen local grocery stores owned by the Charleston-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., “forever” is getting cut short.

As reported on the front page of Friday's Post and Courier, the company is selling 11 stores in the Charleston area — four to Bi-Lo and seven to Harris Teeter.

Also being sold by Piggly Wiggly to Bi-Lo are 18 other stores in South Carolina and Georgia.

Thus, by year's end, 11 stores affectionately known here as “The Pig” will have new names. That includes all of the company's stores on James Island and Johns Island and in Mount Pleasant.

That even includes the landmark Meeting Street Piggly Wiggly a short walk up Columbus Street from this newspaper.

Sure, as President Calvin Coolidge stressed, “The business of America is business.”

Sure, the management of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. has a responsibility to do what it deems is best for its business.

Just don't expect loyal Pig patrons to like this particular business decision.

However, there is this silver lining on this dark cloud of changing times: Piggly Wiggly president/CEO David Schools said the folks working at the affected stores will be offered job opportunities with the new owners.

And as George Stevens, president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, writes in a letter on this page, “The leadership of Piggly Wiggly got a good deal for the Pig's employees. Retirement plans did not vaporize and paychecks did not disappear.”

Still, the looming disappearance of that smiling Pig face at 11 grocery stores here has produced plenty of frowns.

Yet tasty memories of our Piggly Wigglys will linger.

“Mrs. Mac's Fried Chicken,” first cooked up by then-deli manager Nel McNaughton at West Ashley's Dupont Crossing Pig in 1967, remains a popular menu item throughout the chain. Lots of locals also fondly recall the long-gone savory gourmet fare from the Meeting Street Pig's “Harold's Cabin.”

Pardon what some non-Pig folks might deem a sentimental overreaction to a business transaction.

No offense to Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter (which is being bought by Kroger Co.) or any of the other grocery chains that operate stores here. But they're not based here. “The Pig” is.

And in this community, we have a long, proud tradition of preserving the best of our past in architecture, culture, manners — and more.

So for many of us, “Sticking with The Pig” is going to be a hard habit to break.

Earlier versions of this editorial incorrectly stated all the stores in West Ashley were to be sold. Piggly Wiggly Carolina will continue to operate its store at 14 Sumar St., near the Northbridge in West Ashley.

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