Illinois Piggly Wiggly spins a controversy with video gambling machines

Dive Brief:

  • A Piggly Wiggly store in Antioch, Illinois has stirred up local controversy by installing four video gambling machines, according to the Daily Herald
  • The store’s owner installed the machines after receiving approval from the town board for a liquor license. Under Illinois law, getting approved for a liquor license also grants an establishment a video gambling license.
  • Some community members have objected to the presence of gambling machines in a family-focused establishment, while town board members say allowing gambling wasn’t their intention in approving the store’s liquor license. Store owner David Karczewski, meanwhile, said he installed the machines to give his location a competitive edge against larger competitors, and he’s seen many new shoppers as a result.

Dive Insight:

  • Piggly Wiggly has a long history of innovation and dazzling consumers. The company’s first store, which opened in Memphis back in 1916, was by most accounts the first self-service grocery store. The founder, a Virginia wholesaler and born salesman named Clarence Saunders who saw numerous inefficiencies with the prevailing system of placing orders with store clerks, stocked his store with more than 1,000 products and told customers that “if they wanted something, they should be able to reach out and take it.”

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