Sam's Club logo as of 2001
|Trading name||Sam's Club|
|Industry||Retailer local warehouse club|
|Founded||April 7, 1983; 36 years ago
Midwest City, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Headquarters||Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.|
|660 U.S. (as of January 31, 2017)
202 international (Mexico, Brazil, China)
|Key people||John Furner (CEO)|
Sam's West, Inc. (doing business as Sam's Club) is an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart, founded in 1983 and named after Walmart founder Sam Walton. As of 2012, Sam's Club chain serves 47 million U.S. (including Puerto Rico) members and is the 8th largest U.S. retailer. As of January 31, 2008, Sam's Club ranks second in sales volume among warehouse clubs with $56.828 billion in sales (in fiscal year 2016) behind Costco.
Sam's Club had sales of $57.157 billion in FY 2014. It reported a 0.3% sales increase in 2014, 4.1% in 2013, and 8.4% sales increase in 2012. This is significantly higher growth than Walmart U.S. stores, which did not have higher than 2% growth since 2010.
As of January 31, 2017, Sam's Club operates 660 membership warehouse clubs in 47 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Oregon, Rhode Island (which that state's only location closed in February 2016) and Vermont are the only states where Sam's Club does not operate, as is the case for the District of Columbia. Walmart International also operates Sam's Clubs in Mexico, Brazil, and China. It has 160 locations in Mexico, 27 locations in Brazil, and 15 in China. Locations generally range in size from 71,000–168,000 sq ft (6,600–15,600 m2), with an average club size of approximately 134,000 sq ft (12,400 m2).
There were also Sam's Club locations in Canada, in which the last location closed in 2009.
In 1987, Sam's Club made its first acquisition by purchasing West Monroe, Louisiana-based SuperSaver Wholesale Warehouse Club; the purchase expanded the chain by 24 locations. The stores were owned by Alton Howard and his son John. John's daughter Korie later married Willie Robertson and became a regular cast member on Duck Dynasty.
In 1989, Sam's Club entered New Jersey with a club in Delran in a former Two Guys / Jefferson Ward store. This was Walmart's first expansion into the Northeast. The first Walmart discount store (now expanded into a Supercenter) in New Jersey opened in 1991 in Turnersville. The company entered the Pennsylvania market in 1990.
The latest flagship club opening as of September 13, 2007, was in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The largest Sam's Club is located in Pineville, North Carolina with 185,000 sq ft (17,200 m2) of retail space that was formerly an Incredible Universe.
On September 24, 2006, Sam's Club received a new logo. The new logo has an updated serif font and features a green and blue diamond inside the big blue diamond found above the word 'Sam's'.
Sam's Club's previous slogan was "We Are In Business For Small Business" until 2006; the decision to remove the slogan comes as Sam's Club attempts to remove itself from serving just small businesses and open up to more individual customers.
In December 2007, Sam's Club launched a new slogan, "Enjoy the Possibilities". Since then it became an official advertising slogan, mentioned in television and radio advertisements, but it is not mentioned on its website. As of January 2008, the "Enjoy the Possibilities" slogan was no longer in use. Sam's Club launched their latest slogan "Savings Made Simple" in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Starting in April 2007, there was speculation of a possible sale or spinoff of Sam's Club from parent company Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. At Walmart's 2007 annual shareholder's meeting in June, management said that Sam's Club is not for sale, although they did not say they are not considering a spinoff.
On February 26, 2009, Walmart Canada announced that it would close all six of its Canadian Sam's Club locations. This was part of Walmart Canada's decision to shift focus towards supercentres, but some industry observers suggested that the operation was struggling in competition with Costco and the non-membership The Real Canadian Superstore (known as Maxi & Cie in Quebec), that had a well-established history in the country. Sam's Club also rebranded the two as yet unopened locations as new Walmart Supercentres.
In January 2010, it was announced that ten clubs would be closed, including four in California. At the same time, Sam's will open six new clubs at various locations in the United States.
On January 24, 2010, it was announced that approximately 11,200 Sam's Club employees would be laid off. The layoffs resulted from the decision to outsource product sampling duties to an outside company (Rogers, Arkansas-based Shopper Events, which already performs in-store product demonstrations for Walmart) and to eliminate New Business Membership Representative positions throughout the chain. Most of the laid-off employees were part-time and represented about 10% of the total Sam's Club workforce.
Like other warehouse clubs, Sam's Club sells most of its merchandise in bulk and directly off pallets. The clubs are arranged much like warehouses, with merchandise stocked in warehouse-style steel bins. Products sold include jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, crystal and collectibles, electronics, floral, apparel, food, and meats. Most locations have Pharmacy, Tire and Battery, Photo, Bakery, Optical, Café and Floral departments. Sam's Club markets items under the private labels Simply Right, Member's Mark, Bakers & Chefs, Daily Chef, and Sam's Club — including products by Richelieu Foods, a private label manufacturer of frozen pizza, salad dressing, sauces, marinades, condiments and deli salads. Sam's Club does not sell the Sam's Choice or Great Value brands that are available in Walmart stores. However, Sam's Club is changing some of the Member's Mark items to the name Simply Right. The Member's Mark Deli products are also changing names to Artisan Fresh.
Sam's Business Center
Sam's Club opened their first Business Center in Houston, Texas, in August 2008. Converted from an existing Sam's location, the Business Center is similar in concept to Costco's Business Centers.
In January 2010, the company announced it would be closing its Business Center, along with nine other clubs across the United States.
Other retail formats
In Houston, Sam's Club opened Más Club in August 2009, a club geared towards the Hispanic population. Membership in Más Club was separate from membership in Sam's Club. It closed in February 2014.
Membership is required to purchase at Sam's Club (except at the cafe, eye exams in optical, and pharmacy where federal law prohibits sales of prescription drugs to members only, as well as liquor and gasoline in some states); however, a one-time 60-day pass may be obtained from many Walmart newspaper ads. A 10% surcharge is added (except where forbidden by local laws, such as in Elmsford, NY, CA, SC) to the prices for non-members, except for pharmacy, cafe, or alcohol items where available. All memberships fees are 100% guaranteed at any point of time in the membership tenure.
Renewal of memberships can be done via the internet, through the mail, in-club at the Membership Services desk, any cash register, and also at the new ATM/Membership kiosks (the latter only available in select locations).
In the United States, Sam's Club memberships are divided into three categories: Business, Savings and Plus, each with an annual fee. Sam's Plus is the most comprehensive membership plan, that includes Cash Rewards and extra savings in Pharmacy and Optical.
Payment options and store credit products
Sam's Club locations, as well as their online storefront, accept Sam's Club (online and in-store) and Walmart credit cards (in-store only), Discover Card, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, debit cards (PIN-based, except MasterCard and Discover, which also can be signature-based), Walmart and Sam's Club gift cards, cash, or checks. As of March 2009, EBT SNAP benefits are accepted in-store. In the past, Visa credit cards were not accepted, except at gas stations because of the high processing fees compared with Walmart's discounted rates with MasterCard.
In 2016, Sam's Club rolled out a mobile application that allows users to scan items while they shop and pay for them, skipping the checkout line. As of December 2016, the app can be used at all locations in the United States.
Sam's Club credit
Sam's Club offers store credit lines to individuals and businesses linked to the member's membership card. As of June 2014, Sam's Club discontinued offering the Sam's Discover card and now offers a Sam's Club MasterCard Card that can be used at Sam's Club and anywhere Mastercards are accepted. Sam's Club MasterCard offers a cash back program of 5% (Up to $6,000 a year then 1% thereafter) on gasoline, 3% on dining and travel and 1% on all other purchases. Sam's Club is also the first merchant in the United States to offer EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) chip-enabled cards.