It seems bizarre now, but the basic concept of a supermarket – customers browsing the aisles and picking which goods they want to buy – was an innovative one 105 years ago.
On 6 September, 1916, the first branch of Piggly Wiggly launched in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s said to be the world’s first self-service supermarket.
Founded by entrepreneur Clarence Saunders, this single store "revolutionised" the grocery industry forever.
Its impact is seen as so significant that there's even a commemorative plaque, which stands in Memphis today, marking its opening.
The previously accepted form of grocery shopping would see a customer presenting their order to a clerk, who would then fetch the goods and tot up the bill as the customer watched on.
The commemorative plaque describes in endearing detail how the new, groundbreaking form of shopping worked at the first Piggly Wiggly store.
“Customers entered through a turnstile, filled their own baskets as they walked through a maze of shelves containing hundreds of products, and had their bills figured by clerks with adding machines.
“Saunders received patents for many of his innovative designs.”
The opening of the store was also marked with a “brass band, beauty contest, flowers for the ladies and balloons for the children”.
The new concept was a popular one, with Piggly Wiggly having opened 200 stories in 40 states by 1921.
They had combined sales of $60m, which according to US inflation calculators is worth $915m (£663m) in today’s terms. The chain is still operating in the US to this day.
While Saunders’ innovation left a permanent mark on the global grocery industry, that's not to say the impact was immediate.
According to MoneyWeek, it was still another 32 years before the UK’s first self-service supermarket opened in the East End of London in 1948.