THE ICON: John G. Schwegmann
THE LEGACY: The Schwegmann family grocery was doing fine. Had been since his grandfather founded it in 1869. But John G. Schwegmann thought it could do better. In 1946, he and two of his brothers proved it, opening the first Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market. Not only was it enormous, with all manner of goods and services available, but it was revolutionary, letting customers do their own shopping instead of relying on someone behind a counter. Over the decades that followed, the outspoken Schwegmann — whether through lawsuits, through the essays published on his store’s grocery bags and in newspaper ads, or through his eventual position in the state Legislature — fought tirelessly to grow the family business, evolving it from a mom-and-pop outfit to a grocery giant and, eventually, a New Orleans institution.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Schwegmann — or Schwegmann’s, as New Orleanians invariably call it — was never a trendy supermarket, never the kind to cater to the rich folks, although society matrons did shop there, side by side with off-duty maids. Mostly it was the breadbasket of the working people, the cheapest place in town for shrimp and okra and Camellia red beans.” — Rick Bragg, writing in The New York Times in December 1996