You were more than an employee. You were an owner.

From bagger to president, that's what you told each other at The Pig.

Work harder, and your company will grow.

Work longer, and you'll have more for your retirement.

Work because you own shares of something big — larger even than the warehouse off Interstate 26, so spacious you could cram 10 football fields of groceries inside: Piggly Wiggly Carolina. Homegrown. One of the largest employee-owned companies in America. Local since forever.

Until forever ended.

The iconic grocery store's demise left scores of employees feeling betrayed by the company to which they dedicated their lives.

Go to or click the image above to read more and learn why.

Tony Bartelme is senior projects reporter for The Post and Courier. He has earned national honors from the Nieman, Scripps, Loeb and National Press foundations and is a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Reach him at 843-937-5554 and @tbartelme