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Piggly Wiggly in Camden to stay open, says manager
Piggly Wiggly
Steve Jackson stands in front of the Camden Piggly Wiggly, where he will continue as manager -- and the Piggly Wiggly name will remain -- despite the store receiving its products from a new supplier. - photo by Gary Phillips

Camden’s Piggly Wiggly on East DeKalb Street, is receiving its wholesale goods from a new supplier, but store manager Steve Jackson said shoppers won’t notice a difference, other than gradual expansions and improvements planned for the store.

The store has been owned by W.R. McLeod, who owns 15 other Piggly Wiggly locations in the Midlands, since 1979. The Piggly Wiggly warehouse has been sold to C&S Family Group, based in the Mauldin/Greenville area.

“We’re going to remain Piggly Wiggly. The Piggly Wiggly name is still going to be on it,” Jackson said. “The Piggly Wiggly in Camden has been here a long time and the ship is not sinking.”

He said an expansion is planned for the west end of the building.

“It’s going to grow. We’re thinking of adding 40 more feet. We don’t have enough (of a) beer section. We don’t have enough wine. The deli is already branching out. The hot bar has just been doing great. We’ve made it larger,” Jackson said. “We’ve upscaled our produce, with cut fruit and salads that the consumer likes to go home and open it up and not have to prepare. We’ll just keep adding on.”

Jackson said the biggest change he has seen in his years in the grocery business is a great increase in competition.

“We’ve got Dollar General. We’ve got Family Dollar. We’ve got CVS and Walgreen’s. We’ve got K-mart and Wal-Mart. All of those folks are in the grocery business. We’ve tried to stay competitive with pricing,” Jackson said. “When you walk in the door we offer you everything as far as meat and produce. That’s an advantage we have over the competition.”

Jackson also said he wants to kill the rumors that he’s planning to retire. He said he came to Piggly Wiggly in 1972 after working two years in the family-owned Houser Supermarket between Bishopville and Sumter.

“It was more or less a country store and we sold everything from fertilizer to paint to hardware to mule collars and liquor mash,” Jackson said. “I was assistant manager. The owner managed the store.”

Jackson said he started at the bottom at Piggly Wiggly and worked his way up.

“I came in the front door and was a bag boy making 95 cents an hour. Naturally, I was stocking also. I was 17. At 19, they threw me a set of keys and I became assistant manager,” Jackson said. “At 21, I ran the Piggly Wiggly uptown, right across from city hall. It was a good job for a country boy.”

Jackson said the recent birth of a grandchild has inspired him to cut back his workload.

“You may not see me as much in the Piggly Wiggly, but I’ll be here every day. I don’t do 12-hour days any more, but as long as the lights are on I’m hopefully going to be running this place, along with great employees,” he said. “We’ve got about 60 now. We’re convenient. We’ve got variety. We’re always going to improve. We want a clean store. We want happy employees. Our customers are the backbone of our business and we want to meet their needs.”