Local businesses look to hire people who lost their jobs by Sam’s Club closure

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) As hundreds of Alaskans prepare to get pink slips with the latest announcement of major wholesaler, Sam’s Club warehouses closing, some Alaskan businesses are looking at the decision as a chance to hire new employees.

By mid-day Thursday — hours after more than 500 employees found out they would no longer have a job, several Sam’s Club employees said they were being contacted by other vendors or businesses encouraging them to submit applications for work.

From similar jobs in retail all the way up to the North Slope, it seems companies want to fill vacant positions.

Duluth Trading Company, set to open this spring said it recently hired 55 Alaskans for the new Anchorage store. A public relations spokesperson for the company said the jobs are a combination of full and part-time positions.

Officials with the state Department of Workforce and Labor Development said mini job fairs are being planned specifically for the Sam’s club employees as well. Although, few details could be publicly released as of Friday afternoon.

Copper River Seafoods announced it recently created 100 year-round jobs in Anchorage. According to Martin Weiser, the chief development officer, the jobs are to process millions of pounds of Alaskan seafood for businesses like Sam's Club, Walmart and other retailers.“We have no anticipation of any job reduction,” Weiser said.

Due to the fact so many Alaskans catch their own seafood, Weiser said less than one percent of the company’s business came from all three of the Sam’s Club warehouses in the state. “There’s approximately 600 other stores that will remain open and there’s far more demand for our resource than there is supply.”

Weiser said the company still needs to hire hundreds of seasonal employees before May.

”The first thought that came to mind is there's 300 additional employees for us," Weiser said. "We spend a lot of time and energy trying to hire local and we usually can't find the numbers that we need locally.”

According to a flyer shared with Channel 2 News from Wendy’s of Alaska, the fast food restaurant chain is also looking to fill several positions from Anchorage to the North Pole. Barbara Hogan wrote in the email, the company plans to hold a “hiring event” in the next week to “hopefully” connect some of the Sam’s employees with positions at Wendy’s.

Neal Fried, an economist with the Alaska Department of Workforce and Labor Development said cuts to positions in retail and the service industry are expected to continue but he’s seemingly optimistic.

“There’s a chance by the end of the year we won’t see job losses at all anymore. We’ll have to see,” Fried said.