Americans love their Walmart and their big-box warehouse stores, and Sam’s Club, which is owned and operated by Walmart and named after its founder, Sam Walton, combines the best of both worlds. But even if you shop at your local Sam’s Club every week, we bet that there are still some things that you don’t know about this mega-chain.
The first Sam’s Club opened on April 7, 1983, in Midwest City, Oklahoma, and began expanding four years later by acquiring other warehouse clubs like SuperSaver and PACE. Today, they’re well-established as a primary competitor of Costco and BJ’s, and the eighth largest retailer in the U.S., with 47 million members shopping at 660 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Sam’s Club sells most of its merchandise — everything from meat to electronics, from flowers to tires — in bulk and off pallets, like its competitors, and they always make sure to offer plenty of free samples of food items. Its private labels are Simply Right, Bakers & Chefs, and Sam’s Club, and they offer three membership levels: Sam’s Savings ($45), Sam’s Business ($45), and Sam’s Plus ($100).
Even though the formula may seem right for the company to perform off the charts, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for Sam’s Club. There was widespread speculation that the company would be spun off a few years ago, all Canadian locations closed in 2009, about 10 percent of the workforce was laid off in 2010, and in 2014 an additional 2,300 jobs were cut at underperforming locations. The company still employs more than 110,000 people, however, and is still going strong.