Piggly Wiggly is closing its West Beltline Boulevard grocery store and restaurant after 20 years at the location, the company said Wednesday.
“Sales are down and the lease is up,” said Chuck Fogle, owner of Neeses-based Fogle Inc., which operates a string of independent Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina, including two in Columbia.
The store, which includes a large sit-down restaurant said to be popular with local customers, is in the middle of a 25 percent off, wall-to-wall merchandise sellout, Fogle said, indicating the timing of the store’s closure would be tied to the sellout’s success.
“This is tough for us,” Fogle said. “It’s tough for the employees, tough for the company.”
The West Beltline Piggly Wiggly employs 70 or so workers, some of whom will transfer to the company’s remaining Columbia store on North Main Street. In addition to the two Columbia stores, Fogle Inc. also operates two Piggly Wiggly stores in Orangeburg, one in Denmark and one in Neeses.
The Piggly Wiggly at 3818 Devine St. in Columbia also remains open.
Only the West Beltline and Neeses stores featured the restaurants, Fogle said, and all of his company’s other Piggly Wigglys will remain open, he said. Fogle purchased the Denmark Piggly Wiggly from Piggly Wiggly Carolina, based in Charleston, in 2014.
Piggly Wiggly is dubbed as the country’s first self-service grocery store, founded in Memphis, Tenn., in 1916 by Clarence Saunders, according to company’s website. Prior to self service grocery stores, the website says, shoppers presented shopping lists to the store clerks who gathered up the merchandise.
From those beginnings in Tennessee, the company flourished through franchising, and Piggly Wiggly Corp. eventually was traded on the New York Stock Exchange for a time, the company website said.
Piggly Wiggly also once wielded a much stronger presence in the Columbia market. The Columbia Piggly Wiggly in Northeast Richland closed in 2014, citing falling sales. In 2013, Piggly Wiggly sold 22 stores in South Carolina and coastal Georgia to BiLo and seven other stores to North Carolina-based Harris Teeter.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398