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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Clarence Saunders' Amazing KEEDOOZLE Stores

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Clarence Saunders Keedoozle
  • Clarence Saunders' Keedoozle
Most people reading this blog probably know quite a bit about Memphis history, and that means they also know quite a bit about Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly, the world's first (well, maybe) supermarket. But for some reason, their knowledge of grocery-store history often doesn't extend much farther than that (I did my dissertation on it at Heidelberg), and what some of you may NOT know is that, after Clarence lost his Piggly Wiggly stores, and his fortune, and his Pink Palace, he started over with something entirely different.

In the late 1930s, he came up with the world's first fully-automated grocery stores. No carts or baskets, no lugging heavy groceries around the store. You just carried a "key" and picked out your items, which were then whisked by conveyor belts, bagged and tabulated, to the front of the store.

He called the new stores "KEEDOOZLE" and you can learn the whole amazing story by watching the July episode of WKNO's "Southern Routes." The show airs Thursday, July 9, at 8 pm, and repeats Saturday, July 10 at 2:30 pm, and again on Sunday, July 12, at 12 noon. For all you folks with more channels than I have, it also airs on WKNO-2 on Saturday, July 10, at 9 pm.

It's a truly fascinating Memphis business story. That episode also includes a nice feature on my pal Tad Pierson, owner and operator of the American Dream Safari, and a piece on a local piano prodigy (the kid's only 6 years old). Don't miss it, or you will hurt my feelings.

PHOTO COURTESY MEMPHIS ROOM, BENJAMIN HOOKS CENTRAL LIBRARY.

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