Photo by Les Stukenberg.
Arizona Sam's Club Stores Closing
- Prescott Valley
- Casa Grande
The Sam’s Club store in Prescott Valley will join three other Arizona stores in shutting its doors on Jan. 26, a company spokeswoman said Thursday, Jan. 11.
In a statement issued Thursday, parent company Walmart said it would shutter 63 Sam’s Clubs around the U.S., and would convert 12 of them to online order fulfillment centers.
Delia Garcia, a spokeswoman for parent company Walmart in Phoenix, said, “Obviously, it’s a difficult decision. It’s never an easy decision to close a store or club, but this is a part of actively managing our portfolio in order to maintain a healthy business into the future.”
Garcia said stores in Scottsdale, Casa Grande, and Chandler will also shut down.
The Sam’s Club location in Prescott Valley generates more than $800,000 a year in sales tax revenue for the town, said Larry Tarkowski, and while he expects that at least some of those sales will go to other retailers in town, “there is no doubt that we will be losing a chunk of sales tax revenue.”
Tarkowski said he’d received a phone call Thursday morning from a representative of Sam’s Club informing him of the situation.
“They’re making strategic moves across the country in response to the changing retail environment,” he said. “I’m certainly not in a position to second-guess those moves.”
Louise Biddlecome of Prescott Valley drove up just outside the front door of Sam’s Club just before noon Thursday to learn the large discount store is preparing to go out of business.
“What a shame,” the long-time customer said.
Her stunned reaction was similar to those of Sam’s Club employees and customers who on Thursday arrived to find the shop was closed for the day as a precursor to shutting down altogether.
The New York City security firm, Executive Protection Solutions, was hired to man the front doors – actually the exit doors – and deliver the company line on Thursday – the store was closed for the day but will resume operation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday. The store will then begin a two-week liquidation process with items to be at first marked down 25 percent and then 50 percent until the doors close on Jan. 26. All memberships will be reimbursed in full.
The main security guard, who identified himself only as Jim, praised the manner in which employees accepted the difficult news that caught them by surprise as they showed up for work or to shop.
“Everybody’s been really good sports. No one has raised their voices or screamed. A couple customers did come out crying,” the security officer said.
One customer who showed up to fill up her tank was clearly confused to find the driveway blocked. She then went to the entrance only to hear what was shared with more than a dozen others: that she will now have to consider shopping at Costco for bulk bargains.
“Yikes,” said Prescott Valley resident Holly Reynolds. “All those people without work, oh goodness.”
Several customers voiced suspicion that this store may have suffered from the plethora of retail options that surround them, including Costco just up the road. But one of the draws for many of them was that the store wasn’t overcrowded and they could always find a parking space. Many are fans of the gas prices.
“We love it here,” said mother and daughter Anjali Giare and Santwana Giare of Prescott Valley who were caught off guard with the news that the store will soon be a retail memory.
“I come here three or four times a week,” said Prescott newcomer Joe Scibona who bought a membership after he relocated from Phoenix a year ago. “This is terrible.”
News media reported closures of stores in Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Alaska, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
The company said about 10 of the locations would become online distribution centers, but that the rest were closing. Some locations were closing immediately, while others, such as Prescott Valley, were expected to be open for a couple of weeks for a liquidation sale.
Walmart also announced on Thursday that it was giving raises to its employees, with the lowest wage now $11, and it was offering $1,000 bonuses to some employees because of the tax overhaul law recently enacted.
As for the 150 people employed at the PV Sam’s Club, Garcia said, those employees who want to stay with the company may be able to transfer to other Walmart stores in the area, she said, or even to other stores around Arizona.
“We’ll be talking with each associate and assessing interest in potentially transferring to another Walmart facility,” she said, but if a transfer “is not possible, then … of course, if they’re eligible, they’ll receive severance.”
Garcia added that employees will be paid for 60 days from Jan. 11, even though the club closes on Jan. 26.
Customers’ memberships are valid at samsclub.com or they can request a refund of their membership fee.
The company said it had 597 remaining Sam’s Clubs.