Piggly Wiggly coming back
by The Press and Standard | July 25, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 24, 2019 at 9:38 am
The pig is back.
On July 22, workers hoisted the Piggly Wiggly sign on the wall at 279 Bells Highway.
The local Piggly Wiggly will be the fourth owned and operated by Lou Sherman of L&R Sherman LLC. The company, based in Ridgeland, has three other Piggly Wigglys located in Ridgeland, Port Royal and Hardeeville.
Sherman said that the grand opening for the Walterboro store is planned for Aug. 28.
Project Manager Joe Pinto is in charge of making sure that Aug. 28 grand opening goes off as planned. “A lot of things have to happen in a short amount of time,” Pinto explained.
Pinto said his task includes getting the equipment into the store, getting the shelving up and scheduling vendors coming in.”
“Once they start bringing in groceries, I will walk away and give it to Lou,” Pinto said. Sherman has already hired John Allen as the store manager.
Working on the Piggly Wiggly, Pinto said, “is like coming home.”
“It is nice coming back to Walterboro,” Pinto said. “When I started with Piggly Wiggly, I used to work with Dan Newton.” That Piggly Wiggly, Pinto said, “had as much fishing tackle as groceries. The store had an old pea sheller — farmers would come in and use it to shell their beans.”
Putting together Sherman’s grocery store, Pinto added, “is my fourth Piggly Wiggly in Walterboro.” Pinto’s time with Piggly Wiggly spans 40 years.
Sherman has over 30 years in the supermarket business, 14 spent with Piggly Wiggly. “I started as a store manager, left as a regional director. I enjoy it, I love it,” he added.
When Piggly Wiggly shut down its Walterboro store about eight years ago, Tractor Supply moved in, taking up at least half of the retail space used by the supermarket. Then Save-A-Lot took over the remaining retail space and operated a grocery store there.
When Save-A-Lot shut down, Sherman said “an opportunity became available.” It was a good location, a nice building. “I thought Walterboro could use another option.”
Sherman said reestablishing a Piggly Wiggly connection with Walterboro was made possible because the space had been used as a supermarket previously and all the mechanical infrastructure was still in good shape.
The plan to return to Walterboro was feasible, Sherman explained, “because we didn’t have to start from scratch. Starting from scratch is very expensive.” Having the mechanicals in place, he said, “is going to make it work. I could not do it otherwise.”
Even though having the mechanicals in place made it economically feasible, Sherman said, “It is still a big investment.”
But it is one that he believes will prove successful. “Walterboro is a growing city, a city that has a lot of loyal customers. Piggly Wiggly was here for a long time. I have been hearing they are glad to see us coming back.”
The existing 14,000 square feet, Sherman said, “is just enough for a conventional grocery store.” It will offer fresh meat cut on site, fresh produce and a full line of groceries.
There won’t be a deli or bakery.
“It will be a small format store,” Pinto said. “We will pack a lot of groceries in a small amount of space.”
When the Piggly Wiggly corporation went out of business about five years ago, C and S Wholesale Grocers bought the company name and began offering the Piggly Wiggly product line.
The individual stores were sold off to owner-operators. About five years ago, Sherman purchased the Piggly Wigglys in Hardeeville, Ridgeland and Port Royal. Sherman said all the independent owner-operations have to pay C and S Wholesalers royalties to use the Piggly Wiggly name.
Sherman said he anticipates the grocery store having between 30 and 35 employees. Some of the employees will be transfer in from other stores. “We will probably hire 20-25 people from Walterboro.”
Those interested in the employment opportunities can stop by the grocery store Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to pick up an application.
When the Piggly Wiggly opens the store, hours will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.