An iconic grocery store chain of the South has made its way back to the Roanoke Valley. The area was home to one of the very first Piggly Wiggly stores in 1919 but the brand quickly disappeared just a few years later when the store was purchased by A&P. Nearly a century later, the Piggly Wiggly name is back in a former IGA building on Riverland Road in Southeast Roanoke.
Managers Chad and Dawn Burdette are no strangers to the industry; they practically grew up in it. Chad started working for the store at age 16, then after a 5-year hiatus working for another company, came back. Dawn’s parents bought the IGA in 1990 and managed it until about four years ago when they retired and she and her husband took over.
Riverland Road/Route 116 running past the store has been under construction for 2 ½-3 years. The Burdettes wanted to do something to attract more customers after the construction was completed and after considering many other factors, including an expanded item offering, decided to make the change to Piggly Wiggly.
Chad wanted to especially appeal to younger shoppers using Facebook. He said he got about 650 likes the first day he started his Piggly Wiggly Facebook page.
“It’s exciting,” Dawn said of the changeover. “It’s been a challenge and a change and we’re excited about changing over and doing something different for the community.” They want to do a lot of events for and with the community. She said their customers are more like family. “Most of our customers came to our wedding. We’ve even had some of them visit us at the hospital when we had our son.”
“The brand is unique to the Valley. It’s something new. It’s fresh and that makes a big difference as well.”
Chad said, “We’re been known for our fried chicken for a very long time; we’re also known for our meat department.”
In addition to fresh local meats cut to order they also offer local produce as well as specialty items like Palmetto Cheese from Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. (Our Publishers favorite!) “I put the Palmetto Cheese on our website and a lot of people have been coming from Cave Spring, Pembroke, (and) the other side of Salem just to get that.”
One of the hottest selling items after becoming the new Piggly Wiggly has been the T-shirt. “We’ve probably sold 600 in the last three weeks.” He said everyone associates the shirt with the pig head on it with going to the beach. “A guy bought seven of them and said he was going to a party and that the prerequisite for the party was that you had to have a Piggly Wiggly T-shirt to get in.” Someone even bought several shirts for their wedding rehearsal dinner.
Dawn said customers like the new store. “They’re very excited about it. We’ve had lots of positives. People have been very, very positive and supportive, even with the road issues.”
The store has been open since June 26th but its Grand Opening is set for Wednesday July 31st. Local dignitaries will be there for a ribbon cutting at 12:15 pm. There will be music, an appearance by Mr. Pig, and the first 100 customers will get a free bag of groceries.
– Beverly Amsler