'Very shocking,' members and employees react to Sam's Club closing announcement

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) Shoppers and employees all said they were blindsided by the announcement revealing a nationwide wholesaler is closing more than 60 of its stores, including three in Alaska.

On Thursday, Sam's Club, the warehouse-store unit of Walmart took to social media to post about closing the stores in a reply to a Tweet, "After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we've decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we're committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition."

Security Guards were stationed outside the doors of the Sam’s Club in Tikahtnu Commons as member after member stopped by to shop, only to be turned away.

Only employees were allowed to enter the store for what security guards said were meetings with staffers.

“We were thinking that the retails would do better this year, not be closing. Very shocking,” Cindy Hendren said from the parking lot of the Sam’s Club Warehouse in South Anchorage.

Several employees declined to do an on-camera interview with Channel 2 News, but did discuss details of the surprising announcement.

Many said they found out through social media before even arriving at work and were simply trying to process the fact they’re now going to be searching for a new job.

Specific numbers for how many employees this will affect are not available due to confidentiality reasons; however, state labor stats list the three clubs as having between 100 and 249 employees each.

“I'm hoping the employees in here, my heart breaks for them. I hope they'll be getting a well severance because they all work really hard,” Cecillia Preziose said, “all these people they work very,very hard.”

While there are other wholesaler options in Anchorage, some Sam’s Club members said they’re concerned about the difference in price memberships fitting into their budgets.

Others, who said they shop at both said they’re disappointed they won’t have the option to grab products only carried by Sam’s Club, “It’s a nice alternative because sometimes you want something different than what Costco’s got or a different quantity or a different size and it’s really nice to have that option to go one place or the other,” Darlene Dunagan said.

Channel 2 News reached out to the Walmart corporation for information on whether the closing Sam’s Club stores will now hold liquidation sales and if employees are being offered severance packages. So far, we haven’t heard back from them.

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