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Mike Brazell is reminiscing about his first job.
It was back in 1969 when the Lancaster native was hired at Piggly Wiggly on Great Falls Highway. He started out mopping and waxing floors and later bagged groceries and stocked shelves.
He eventually became assistant manager and then manager.
The personal interaction is what he remembers most.
“I always enjoyed talking to a lot of the customers,” Brazell said. “It’s seemed like we had the same ones come back each week.”
This week, the former bag boy has been dealing with shock as he processes the news that “The Pig is going away.
Piggly Wiggly, which has been open in Lancaster since the late 1960s, is closing. Night manager Amy Faulkner said the last day open is Aug. 18.
“Everybody’s pretty upset about it,” said Faulkner, who’s one of about 50 store employees. “We’re going to miss all our customers.”
Faulkner said she learned of the closing Friday, Aug. 2. Store workers began telling customers that day about the decision.
Starting Monday, Aug. 12, all items in the store will be discounted by 25 percent, Faulkner said.
She added that during these last few days, store hours will remain the same – 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Piggly Wiggly’s lease has not been renewed and Faulkner said the property has been sold.
On Tuesday, The Lancaster News was unable to learn the name of the new owner. Rumors are that the property will be the location for a future McDonald’s and Walgreens.
Though new businesses may be built on the property, Brazell will always remember the location as Piggly Wiggly.
Having worked at the grocery store about nine years, he says he “really grew up” there.
“We learned what hard work and dedication was, and responsibility,” Brazell said. “We took our job seriously. We had a good time, but everybody worked hard.”
His father, Carl Brazell, worked at the store in the late 1940s as a teenager when it was P&M Grocery.
That hometown business was the forerunner of the Piggly Wiggly, which was run by Mick Parker once the new store was built.
“I did it all, except cut meat,” said the elder Brazell, who helped deliver groceries back then. “It’s a whole lot different now. Back then you really waited on customers and Mr. McCaskill (of P&M Grocery) wanted it done right.”
Now 83, Brazell, who is still “Big on the Pig” and shops there weekly, is saddened by the news of the closing.
“It’s unreal,” Brazell said. “I really hate it. Piggly Wiggly has been a namesake in this town since I was a young fellow.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152
Editor’s note: Copy editor Gregory A. Summers contributed to this report.