Sam's Club officials confirmed that 63 stores were abruptly closed nationwide.
However, according to Sam's Club spokeswoman Amy Wyatt-Moore, 10 of those 63 stores will re-open as eCommerce fulfillment centers, the first of which will open in Memphis, Tennessee.
One Nashville-area Sam's Club location appeared to be included in the unexpected closures nationwide, on the same day, parent company Walmart announced raises and bonuses for workers.
According to its website, Sam's Club employs an average of around 170 workers at each location, with some larger locations employing closer to 300.
The west Nashville store on Old Hickory Boulevard was closed Thursday during normal business hours, with a note posted on the door and the following automated message playing for callers.
"This location will be closed today and reopening tomorrow, January 12, at 10 a.m. Please visit samsclub.com for alternate locations or for your online shopping needs."
A security guard was outside the store, telling would-be shoppers to come back the following day. He told NewsChannel 5 the store would be closed by the end of the month.
The news was consistent with other closures across the country in Baltimore, Buffalo, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Houston and Memphis.
The Twitter account for Sam's Club confirmed a "series of clubs" would be closing but did not report where the stores would close.
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.
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) January 11, 2018
Pharmacies were expected to remain open at the impacted stores for two weeks.
Pharmacies will stay open for at least two weeks, and we will work with each state’s Board of Pharmacy to help guide this transition.
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) January 11, 2018
Sam's Club CEO John Furner sent the following message to associates earlier Thursday:
Over the past year, we’ve talked about how our business must change in order to be positioned for the future of retail. We’re committed to creating a new and better Sam’s Club that offers more value and a great experience to our members. When I shared our strategy in October[cdn.corporate.walmart.com], I said we’d make the choices it will take to get there. Today, I want to share some important decisions we’ve made.
Transforming our business means managing our real estate portfolio - we need a strong fleet of clubs that are fit for the future. After a thorough review, it became clear we had built clubs in some locations that impacted other clubs, and where population had not grown as anticipated. We’ve decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy. We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We’ll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers - to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the SamsClub.com business. The first of these conversions will be in Memphis, Tennessee.
We know these decisions impact people we care about deeply - our associates and their families, as well as our members and their neighbors - and we did not make them lightly. A Sam’s Club is a place of community and memories, and we are so appreciative of our associates who have worked hard over the years to serve our members. Our immediate focus will be on helping those impacted by today’s news. We will work to place as many associates as possible in new roles at nearby locations, and we’ll provide them with support, resources, and severance pay to those eligible. Many of our associates and members will move to nearby clubs. If you work in such a club, please make them feel welcome.
The steps being announced today will help us serve our members better and grow. We’ll be able to invest more in eCommerce, remodels, and in-club technology. We’ll also be able to lean into the areas members care about most, including fresh food, Member’s Mark, and exciting merchandise. By narrowing our focus and simplifying what we do, we’ll be able to provide better items, a better experience, and a more valuable membership. In the coming weeks, we’ll share some exciting steps we’re taking to become even more special to our members.
Change is never easy, but we’re making these decisions from a position of strength. As you've seen in our recent quarterly results, our traffic and comps have improved, and that’s because of the work you do to serve our members. We have momentum, and now is the time to accelerate our transformation efforts. Thank you.
The announcement to close stores and layoff employees came the same day parent company, Walmart, announced it was raising their minimum wage to $11 an hour, and giving all employees a one-time bonus of up to $1,000.
The new wage and bonuses were because of the new Republican tax law.
It was unclear exactly how many employees lost their jobs.
SamsClub.com suggested shoppers find an alternate store in the area. The Antioch, Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Hendersonville locations were expected to remain open, in addition to Middle Tennessee stores in Clarksville, Cookeville. The Bowling Green and Paducah, Kentucky stores were also still open.