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Grocer Lidl looking to replace famed 'social' Piggly Wiggly in downtown Columbia

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Lidl

Lidl, a discount grocer headquartered in Germany, has been building up its presence in the eastern US. Provided

COLUMBIA — Discount grocer Lidl is readying plans to replace a longtime Piggly Wiggly popular with Columbia shoppers, according to city planning documents.

Documents on file with the Planning Commission seek permission to replace the signage on the existing store at 3818 Devine St. with signs for Lidl. The commission is set to hear the request Monday. 

No one at Lidl replied immediately to a request for comment.

Andrew Franklin, chief operating officer of Virginia-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the shopping center, said Lidl is in a "study period" on the property.

"They are exploring the site to see if they can do what they want to do with the space," he said, adding that both parties involved can back out of a deal at any time.

Lidl has two of its grocery stores open in the Midlands — one in Lexington and one in Northeast Richland. The German retailer, a discount rival to Aldi, launched its U.S. expansion in 2017 and now has more than 100 stores in the Eastern parts of the country.

In August, Lidl announced plans for an additional 50 stores, including a second Charleston-area location on Dorchester Road in North Charleston.

No opening date for the possible new Columbia supermarket was available immediately. And Franklin said he was not able to disclose a timeline for the proposed deal.

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The change would remove another longtime grocery fixture from the Columbia landscape, a location known as the "Social Pig" because residents of nearby neighborhoods, such as Shandon and Heathwood, would so often run into each other while shopping.

Allison Terracio, a Richland County Council member who lives nearby, said that the Piggly Wiggly is a familiar stop for residents of the nearby area.

"I would think that people would be very sad to see it go," Terracio said.

June Derrick, whose family owns the land on which the building sits, was quick to point out "The Pig is still open and running."

Other grocers along a one-mile strip of Devine Street have undergone changes in recent months.

Bi-Lo, which has begun to sell off stores to Food Lion and Lowes as its parent company begins winding down the brand, ended its relationship with the University of South Carolina and removed the Gamecock on the Devine Street storefront. An Earth Fare on Devine Street, as well as one each in Charleston and Summerville, closed for several months before reopening in August with new ownership.

Long's Drugs, a longtime local pharmacy with a store in the same shopping center, closed its retail locations in March. Franklin said his company also had interest from potential tenants for that building.

Jessica Holdman of The Post and Courier contributed to this reportFollow Mike Fitts on Twitter at twitter.com/mikefittsat140

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