Beautifully engraved antique stock certificate from Clarence Saunders Stores, Inc. dating back to the 1930's. This document, which is signed by the company Vice President and Assistant Secretary, was printed by the American Bank Note Company and measures approximately 11 1/2" (w) by 7 1/2" (h).
The vignette features a pair of allegories with a cornucopia, pick axe and a basket of fruits and vegetables.
You will receive the exact certificate pictured.
Clarence Saunders Stores, Inc. was founded by the company's namesake after his very successful term as Piggly Wiggly's President came to a bitter end.
The story of Clarence Saunders' disconnection with Piggly Wiggly is the story of how Piggly Wiggly went to the Stock Market and wound up in the stock yard. In November, 1922, when Mr. Saunders was Piggly Wiggly's successful president, Wall Street operators started a bear movement in Piggly Wiggly stock. Angry, Mr. Saunders hastened from his native Memphis to Manhattan. They would sell Piggly short, would they? Well, he'd show them, and he did. He ran Piggly Wiggly stock up from 40 past 120, realized some millions of paper profits. Then, unfortunately, the Stock Exchange Governors decided that a corner had been established in Piggly Wiggly and took the stock off the board. With trading suspended, there was no market, no quotation on Mr. Saunders' stock. Mr. Saunders discovered that Wall Street has a cemetery at one end and a river at the other. After an unsuccessful attempt to unload his Piggly Wiggly stock, an attempt featured by a full page newspaper advertisement entitled "Fighting for My Life," Mr. Saunders turned over a fortune estimated at nine million dollars to the bankers who had financed his disastrous corner, and got out of Piggly Wiggly.
While running Piggly Wiggly, Saunders employed very bizarre advertising, always putting his full name in the ads, and sometimes not even mentioning Piggly Wiggly at all. So when the Wall Street lawyers took away his nationwide chain of grocery stores, they also thought that his name came with the buy-out. The new owners of Piggly Wiggly knew Saunders would immediately start a new — and competing — grocery chain: “His name was inevitably linked in the public mind with self-service and Piggly Wiggly. How easy it would be for Clarence Saunders to promote his new business as the creator of Piggly Wiggly.”
Well, as it turns out, Saunders decided he didn’t need to mention his former stores. He just needed to remind people he was still Clarence Saunders.
And so it was that the new groceries were given the very unusual name of “Clarence Saunders: Sole Owner of My Name” and by June 1924, he had already opened four of them across Memphis.
This was complicated for city directories of the day, which simply listed the properties as “Clarence Saunders Stores.” The odd name stuck with shoppers, though, who knew them as “Sole Owner” stores, and that’s how he promoted them, in ads that he ran in newspapers, high-school yearbooks, and pretty much anywhere there was ink on paper.
In kind of an “in your face” move, he built many of his stores just down the block from existing Piggly Wiggly stores — sometimes right across the street from them.
They were an immediate success. The public supported Saunders’ comeback in the grocery trade. The Sole Owner stores grew as rapidly as he could find people to buy a franchise or manage a new store. By 1927, he operated 220 stores in 15 states, with total sales approaching $25 million — an astonishing sum in those days.
There was just one problem. The timing was awful. The Great Depression was looming over every business venture in America, and Saunders wasn’t immune. In 1931, he formed a Pacific Division, with plans to build more than 100 Sole Owner stores in California, and had signed franchise agreements to open 25 others in Chicago. By the next year, he was clearly in financial trouble, and by 1933, the Sole Owner operation was suddenly bankrupt. The Memphis city directories, which at one time listed more than 20 Sole Owner stores, now devoted only a few lines to the “Clarence Saunders Corporation,” with an office in the Sterick Building. By 1935, all of the Sole Owner stores were either standing empty, or had been taken over by other grocers, such as Kroger.