Living and Dying and the First Piggly Wiggly

Jul 23, 2011 | 0 comments

In the Piggly Wiggly at the Pink Palace

Visiting Memphis for the ICCFA University to become a certified celebrant, got the opportunity to visit The Pink Palace Museum, a local landmark built by grocery store pioneer, Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly chain.

Within the museum is a recreation of the first Piggly Wiggly self serve grocery store, where customers picked up a basket and helped themselves to items on the shelves in several aisles. When they had collected all the items desired, customers checked out with one clerk at a register.

Also in the museum is an example of the general store that the Piggly Wiggly began replacing in the 1920s. The general store had the goods behind counters, and several clerks were needed to retrieve items for customers. The self serve grocery model offered a greater variety of merchandise, while fewer clerks were needed to run the store.

Compare the revolutionary self-serve grocery of the 1920s with today’s modern food shopping experience. There’s a huge magnitude of even more choices, and with self-checkout lanes, even less human assistance.

This analogy can be applied to today’s funeral choices. In the 1920s, burial was about the only option. Funeral directors encouraged embalming and casket manufacturers were expanding their offerings from wood to metal. Now the disposition choices include burial, cremation, donation to science, and the newest trend, alkaline hydrolysis. Funeral directors stand ready to help people make choices, but most folks are hesitant to shop around before they need these services.

With all the additional choices, families can be overwhelmed if they haven’t had a conversation before someone dies. Remember, it’s not “if” but “when.” Like groceries, we all have an expiration date.

A Good Goodbye