- Alexandra Seltzer Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Nearly 200 employees of Sam’s Club near Lantana learned Thursday the location will close by the end of January as part of a larger “strategy” that includes the shuttering more than 60 stores nationwide.
The West Palm Beach store at 4295 45th St. appears to have survived the cuts. While the Lantana store closed Thursday and is expected to reopen Friday, the West Palm location remained open.
Representatives of Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart Stores, Inc., didn’t respond to requests for comments. Neither did Walmart. When asked through Twitter for information on the status of the Lantana location, a Sam’s Club spokesperson directed the reporter to the company locations map. The company had removed the 7233 N. Seacrest Blvd. store from the map but kept the West Palm one.
Sam’s Club issued this statement on the social media application: “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.”
Some clubs will be converted into eCommerce fulfillment centers to serve a growing number of online shoppers, Sam’s Club President and CEO John Furner said in a note obtained by USA Today.
The closings came the same day as Walmart announced plans to raise its starting wages, give bonuses to some employees and expand maternity and parental-leave benefits, according to The New York Times .
The Lantana-area Sam’s Club will close Friday, Jan. 26. Hourly employees will be terminated March 16 and workers in management will be terminated April 13. In total, 191 workers will lose their jobs, according to a memo from the company to Lantana Mayor David Stewart.
All employees found out Thursday, according to the memo.
“I’m very sad to see Sam’s Club go from the local area because I believe it was a great establishment that provided a great value for all our residents in the area and for many businesses that were dependent on them for their local supplies,” Stewart said.
Lake Worth resident Stuart Michalsky II shopped at the store Wednesday night and said there was no indication the store was preparing to close. He picked up batteries, fruit and Tupperware for his wife Karen.
After hearing the news, he said, “I think I’m gonna have to drive a little farther to find another one. I might have to change to a Costco.”
Brittany Delva of Boynton Beach planned to shop at the store Thursday but instead, employees directed customers away. Delva said she’s shopped there for about five years because of their diaper and pizza deals.
“I’m saddened,” she said. “Granted I could go to BJ’s or Costco but this was the closest location to me (east of I-95) I not only shopped there… plenty of my coworkers frequented for lunch.”
The 109,000-square-foot store opened in 1989 as the 11th Sam’s in the state.
At least 60 stores nationwide are affected, according to BusinessInsider.com . It listed two other Florida locations: Tampa and Fern Park.
Some stores across the country closed immediately without any notice. Employees in Houston, Texas reported they found out they’d be losing their jobs as they arrived for work. At some stores, doors were locked and a notice informed workers. At others, police officers turned them away, according to BusinessInsider.