Headquartered in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Piggly Wiggly Midwest has been a regional institution since 1911. Founded as the Schultz Brothers Co. by brothers Herman, Arthur and Oscar Schultz, the company was a wholesale dealer dedicated to serving independent grocers.
In 1949, the brothers began operating Piggly Wiggly corporate retail stores, according to Mark McGowan, SVP of retail for C&S Wholesale Grocers LLC.
By 1962, the company’s name had been changed to Schultz Sav-O Stores Inc., following Schultz Brothers Co.’s purchase of Sav-O Corp., which was a trading stamp company. Schultz Sav-o Stores went public that same year. It operated as a corporate entity for Piggly Wiggly for 20 years, McGowan explained.
In 1982, the company obtained the right to grant franchises under the Piggly Wiggly banner in parts of eastern and central Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. By 1998, franchise rights had expanded to include all of Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota and Iowa.
The wholesale company continued under the Schultz Sav-O name until June 2001, when it became known as Fresh Brands, Inc., McGowan continued. The company experienced various changes throughout the 2000s. In February 2006, Fresh Brands was purchased by Certifresh Holdings, Inc. and taken private.
The company was acquired the following year by the Butera Family. The Fresh Brands moniker went away in 2009 when it adopted the Piggly Wiggly Midwest name.
As of two years ago, Piggly Wiggly Midwest sold to C&S, McGowan said. The company consists of more than 100 retail stores that include a combination of corporate-owned Piggly Wiggly locations, independent Piggly Wiggly franchise customers and independently-branded (non-Piggly Wiggly) customers.
The corporate and franchise stores are in Wisconsin, but the independents are scattered throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, according to McGowan. These stores range in size from about 18,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet.
Business is continuing to grow as the company looks for “new opportunities with our existing customers as well as adding new customers to the mix,” said Mike Isken, senior director of finance for Piggly Wiggly Midwest. Those new opportunities are in the planning stages.
“We have a road map outlining perspective new locations,” Isken said.
What really matters to Isken and McGowan is if a location contains the Piggly Wiggly “secret sauce.”
“[That] is really our franchise group or the nature of our stores and the way they operate within their communities,” Isken said. “Whether it’s supporting their Little League, heading up charity golf outings for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, our franchisees are just so engaged in their communities.”
“That’s what matters most – being a part of their community. It’s more than just providing groceries, it’s being a central part of their every day.”
For more information, visit shopthepig.com.
To read more original content by The Shelby Report, click here.