It has been about a month since the transaction between Bi-Lo Holdings and Piggy Wiggly Carolina Co. was announced, and I am reminded of the first two lines of a famous quote: “Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think.”
These are sage words, and I’m glad I followed them, because they allowed me time to be deeply moved by the op-ed pieces of George Stevens, president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation; David Schools, president and CEO of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.; and the writer of the Sept. 14 editorial, “The pain of losing ‘The Pig.’” Their stories were meaningful for us, as I’m sure they were for the people of Charleston.
A theme throughout the articles was the uncertainty of change. There was speculation that what it means to be local might change. Store jobs are remaining, but the employer is changing, and corporate community involvement might change.
Also echoed throughout the articles was the belief that we will be getting some of the most friendly, service-oriented, community-minded people around. I’ve visited many of these stores and witnessed this firsthand.
Believe it or not, Piggly Wiggly runs in my veins. My dad worked for the Houston-based Piggly Wiggly chain in the 1960s before starting the Randalls chain in 1966. His time at The Pig helped shape how he operated Randalls, which in turn helped shape who I am today. You see, like most young children of grocery store owners, I started my lifelong grocery career at the age of 10.
Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. has an outstanding reputation, and their associates’ efforts have played a key role in making these stores such an important part of the communities they serve.
We know the store associates are the reason customers love to shop at these stores, and that is why we are inviting those associates to join the Bi-Lo Holdings family.
While the name on the fronts of the buildings may change, the people running them don’t have to. We look forward to exchanging what it means to be local between Piggly Wiggly and Bi-Lo and to working together to run even greater stores.
Speaking of being local, it would be disingenuous for me to tell the people of Charleston that these stores are not going to change.
What I can say is that being local is important to us and is a foundation of our business strategy, whether is it offering locally sourced products in our stores or supporting community organizations that are important to our shoppers.
We believe Bi-Lo will be successful by understanding and listening to our core shoppers and building a shopping experience around what we learn.
It has been said that the folks at Piggly Wiggly have set a high standard for us, and we couldn’t agree more. We look forward to meeting the challenge, and in doing so, earning the business of loyal Pig patrons throughout the greater Charleston area.
On behalf of the entire team at Bi-Lo Holdings, I wish to again express my excitement about this agreement. I look forward to working with the operators in the very near future and seeing the people of Charleston in the stores.
R. Randall Onstead
President and CEO