Do you know what these five buildings yoostabe?
1342-44 North Main Street.
4083-89 Lancaster Avenue.
2411-13 North Main Street.
1304 Hemphill Street.
Need a clue? Here is a ghost sign:
Yes, all these buildings, including . . .
half of the Old Home Supply building at 1801-03 College Avenue, yoostabe Piggly Wiggly supermarkets.
The 1930 city directory lists Fort Worth’s Piggly Wiggly stores:
1342-44 North Main Street was built in 1927 as Piggly Wiggly store no. 21.
4083-89 Lancaster Avenue (then the Dallas Pike) was Piggy Wiggly store no. 27. It was built in 1926.
2411-13 North Main Street was built in 1920 as Piggly Wiggly store no. 2.
1304 Hemphill Street was built in 1920 as Piggly Wiggly store no. 3.
The College Avenue building was built in 1924 as Piggly Wiggly store no. 15.
Note that the Piggly Wiggly stores in 1930 were operated by Safeway. More on that later.
Grocery entrepreneur Clarence Saunders began Piggly Wiggly in Memphis in 1916 as the first true self-service grocery store.
Piggly Wiggly came to Fort Worth in August 1918. The first store was at 906 Houston Street opposite Woolworth and Kress. This ad trumpeted the self-serve innovation: “Come to this wonderful store, where you enter an aisle through a turnstile, are loaned a basket for your use while in the store. You then wend your way amongst all the standard brands of eatables and articles, selecting just what you want, then paying the cashier . . . no store clerks to gab and smirk while folks are standing around ten feet deep to be waited on.”
By 1923 Fort Worth had thirteen Piggly Wiggly stores.
But by 1923 there was trouble in Piggly Wigglyland.
In 1923 Merrill Lynch and other Wall Street speculators attempted to take over Saunders’s company. Saunders’s attempt to fend off the speculators backfired: The speculators took over. Saunders lost a fortune, was forced into bankruptcy, and was replaced as head of Piggly Wiggly. In time the new owners of Piggly Wiggly sold many of the stores. One of the buyers was Safeway Inc., founded by Marion Barton Skaggs. Yes, “Skaggs” as in “Skaggs-Albertsons.”
In 1925 Saunders founded a new chain of grocery stores to compete with his old chain. The name of the new chain reflected Saunders’s bitterness over losing ownership of Piggly Wiggly to speculators: “Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Stores Inc.”
Probably no one but Saunders himself referred to his stores as “Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Stores.” They were “Sole Owner Stores” to shoppers. In 1925 one of Fort Worth’s two Sole Owner stores was at 601 West Magnolia Avenue, just around the corner from Piggly Wiggly no. 3 at 1304 Hemphill Street.
Oh, and to promote his new chain, Saunders bought a professional football team in Memphis, Tennessee and renamed the team the . . . wait for it . . . “Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Tigers.”
Try working that into a cheer.
Saunders’s new chain flourished, eventually numbering 675 stores nationwide. However, the chain went into bankruptcy in 1930 during the Great Depression, Saunders lost another fortune and moved on to new—but unsuccessful—experiments in grocery retailing.
Meanwhile, of course, Saunders’s original chain of grocery stores continued to flourish “in the heart of your neighborhood.” (Ad from a 1930 Fort Worth Press.)