“Piggly Wiggly is an excellent name here in the South. Everybody knows it. It has a good reputation.” That’s how Chuck Fogle, VP at Fogle’s, Inc., explained switching the family business to The Pig.
The Fogle family owns six Piggly Wiggly stores across South Carolina. The family has been in the grocery business since the mid-80s. In 1998, Fogle’s, Inc. switched its banner from Giant Food World to the famous pig.
Fogle doesn’t care to talk much about himself or his business, saying instead what really matters is the way his customers are treated. Asked about his community involvement or the success of the stores, he replied: “We know where our blessing comes from, and we’ll just leave it at that … we believe in supporting the community.”
Business was good before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fogle’s, Inc. saw the same boom as many other independents. Again, Fogle just commended his teams and their support of their communities.
“When [the pandemic] started, all the news media talked about was gloom and doom, and our people and customers were scared,” he recalled. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.
“We have a good team, but we all stuck together and served the customer and just kept working. Everybody kept their heads down and went to work for each other.”
Fogle’s pandemic experience was perhaps a bit unique than others. As it approached, his company was putting the finishing touches on a store, which celebrated its grand opening in February 2020. Within 60 days, the country shut down.
“It probably couldn’t have been timed worse. But we made it,” he said.
Since the pandemic, Fogle has been working to remodel and expand the other stores. He’s completed the renovation of one and is preparing to undertake two more. He said the most recent remodel was probably the most extensive. It began in 2021 and continued until the end of 2022.
“We added space to pretty much every department, including the back room and the work areas. It was a big project,” he said.
One of the next two stores is going to get similar treatment.
“One that we plan on doing this year is enlarging the footprint a little bit, but we’re getting all new equipment, new decor, it’s going to be a whole redesign,” he said.
He hopes to get those updates started mid-year.
Fogle has also increased pay for his staff “several times,” noting “it’s the right thing to do.” Perhaps as a result, all his stores are fully staffed, something not many grocers can claim in the current work climate.
While staffing isn’t a main issue, there isn’t as much “depth” as he’d like.
“We’re fully staffed, but there’s not really any depth in all our departments,” he said. “If somebody retires or leaves, we will have to go outside of the company to replace them. When we get a new location or expand, we try and promote from within, if possible.”
In all his years in the grocery industry, what has truly shocked him most is the drop in the number of stores. He recalled when his hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina, had “six or seven supermarkets in town. Now there are maybe three supermarkets.”
However, he did say that now is the best time to be an independent. “The market is wide open for folks that want to get into the business and try their best,” he said. “I just think the opportunity has never been better.”
For more information, visit pwadc.net.
To read more news from Piggly Wiggly by The Shelby Report, click here.