BY MELISSA WISTEHUFF | PHOTOS BY JOSH MANNING
It doesn’t take much to make Jean Martin happy. The owner of NOFO @ the Pig says searching for unique items to sell in her gift shop and sampling delicious food for the specialty grocery section—as well as taste-testing new menu additions in the café—makes each day unique.
“I get excited when I find a really pretty tablecloth or taste a yummy cinnamon bun from a local baker,” Martin says, with a glint in her eyes.
A LOOK BACK @ THE ORIGINAL PIG
Located on one of the corners of historic Five Points in Raleigh, NOFO @ the Pig is an acronym for North Fourth—the first NOFO store Martin owned, which was located on North Fourth Street in Wilmington. Martin, a Raleigh native, used to walk to the Piggly Wiggly store that now houses NOFO @ the Pig.
“I used to walk to the Pig and pick up groceries for my mother,” she remembers. “Back then, we didn’t have to pay for groceries at the store. Every customer had their own index card with their name on it, and we’d be given a monthly bill. They would even deliver the groceries—and put them in the fridge and pantry!” she muses.
Piggly Wiggly—known affectionately as “the Pig” by locals—closed in 1998. Martin began remodeling the space to outfit NOFO @ the Pig the very next year, intent on salvaging as much history of the iconic space as possible. “I wanted to preserve that sense of community that Piggly Wiggly meant to all of us,” Martin says. She saved as many original keepsakes from the store as possible, and was able to conserve the history of the building, while paying homage to its importance to the neighborhood. “Five Points is like the Main Street of a little town—an anchor for the surrounding neighborhoods,” she says. “The Pig was like its home base.”
TODAY @ THE PIG
Walk into NOFO @ The Pig these days, and every turn of the curated gift shop and specialty grocery section is chocked full of items Martin and her team hand-select. “I’m proud to have customers ranging in age from 5 to 90,” Martin says. With goods priced from just five cents (Bazooka gum) to $500, there is something for everyone at NOFO @ the Pig.
Martin is also proud that the large majority of the food department supports Southern and primarily North Carolina–based food artisans. Choose from items like chocolate sea salt almond butter from Durham’s Big Spoon Roasters and dry rubs from hometown barbecue favorite The Pit. You’ll also find items such as tea towels, napkins and table runners from Spoonflower of Durham; T-shirts designed by various local vendors, like House of Swank Clothing and Oak City Collective; and hand-poured soy candles from South Street Candle Co. “I like to think I’m an ally for local artists and small businesses,” Martin says.
The café also supports local food producers via longtime favorite entrees such as shrimp and grits, and pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes and collards. It also serves up new additions. “My current favorite is the spinach burger,” Martin says. The café is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so Martin has started welcoming food trucks on Tuesdays. “I want to feed the neighborhood,” she says. Indoor and outdoor seating is provided.
There’s something for everyone at NOFO @ the Pig, since the gift shop is transformed every quarter to represent each of the four seasons and highlight holidays taking place during those seasons. Christmastime brings whimsy, wonder and grandeur, while spring—Martin’s personal favorite—showcases “all the cuteness of springtime, with Easter bunnies, chicks and pastel colors,” she says.
Martin writes and prints a bimonthly newsletter called NOFOmation, in which she highlights all things new or upcoming at the store and café, as well as local stories that might tie into products sold there.
In the February/March 2023 edition, Martin shares a truly heartwarming story of how local artisan Mike Ruck came up with the idea to start Mike’s Hearts—a line of heart-shaped magnets he began making for loved ones during COVID. “It’s my way of keeping the community abreast of things going on at NOFO @ the Pig, but also a way to share good news,” Martin says.
FLICKERS OF GLITTER
There’s more than one reason why Martin’s six grandchildren and one great-grandchild call her “Any,” short for “Anything.” Besides the fact that Martin did, after all, tell them they could call her “anything,” she thrives on just about any day-to-day excitement that being a business owner brings. “I call it flickers of glitter, because it’s like little sprinkles of surprises all around,” she says.
Those flickers sum up Jean—and her store—perfectly. Like glitter, she shines brightly in the community with a twinkle in her eye, and NOFO @ the Pig’s treasures—from food to gifts—also come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Plus, glitter has staying power, just like NOFO @ the Pig, which has become a pillar of the Five Points community.
“Piggly Wiggly employees were like family members to the neighborhood—they were a part of our everyday lives,” Martin says. “They knew each of our names and who our mothers were. I always wanted NOFO @ the Pig to have the same sense of community.”
NOSTALGIA @ THE PIG
When NOFO @ the Pig owner Jean Martin began remodeling the old Piggly Wiggly grocery store to outfit NOFO @ the Pig, she set out to preserve as many of the store’s original artifacts as possible. Here are some of those relics to look for the next time you drop in.
Piggly Wiggly Mural
A black-and-white photograph of the Piggly Wiggly interior was transformed by Durham artist Richard Prazon. He painted the photo of the store’s employees in color, and left the rest of the mural in black and white. He also added shoppers and a playful pig running from the butcher.
Canned Food Bar
The bar downstairs is constructed of Piggly Wiggly brand canned vegetables. After the cans were carefully opened and emptied, their contents were used to make a soup for a local soup kitchen.
Piggly Wiggly Sign
The sign that hung on the backside of Piggly Wiggly now hangs over booths in the café.
The circular crown that holds the dancing pig chandelier in the café was once the HVAC vent that hung above the cash registers at Piggly Wiggly.
Grocery Department Signs
The department signs hanging on the walls around the gift shop signify where each department—frozen foods, delicatessen, refrigerated foods, etc.—was located within Piggly Wiggly.
Tip Top Clock
The clock that hangs outside the entrance to the gift shop once hung inside the original Tip Top grocery store before it became Piggly Wiggly.
Original Photos and Ads
Original photos, ads and other miscellaneous memorabilia hang throughout the upstairs gift shop and specialty foods section, as well as throughout the café downstairs.
The original produce cooler now houses toys and plush animals. It still features original barcodes for items such as broccoli and ears of corn.
Original Piggly Wiggly grocery carts can be found outside, repurposed as planters.