Sam's Club, the membership warehouse owned by retail giant Walmart, is shutting down or converting 63 stores, a Walmart official confirmed Thursday. Those include stores in North Seattle, Renton, and Auburn, affecting 495 Puget Sound area workers.
The stores were closed Thursday so the company could deliver the news to workers. They will be back open Friday, but will shut down for good January 26.
The closures came the same day that Walmart said it would lift the hourly minimum wage in the U.S. to $11 and giving out bonuses of up to $1,000.
"Only for a $2 raise? They're closing all these locations? That sucks," said one customer who says she's been shopping there for 15 years. "That sucks. Rest in peace, Sam's Club, I guess."
About 50 stores nationwide will be going out of business for good. Roughly 10 are closing their doors as soon as Thursday, while the remainder will be shuttered over the next three to four weeks, the Walmart official said.
Additionally, about 10 to 12 Sam's Club stores are slated to be closed temporarily as the retailer converts them to regional distributional centers to help ramp up its ability to fulfill online purchases. While those stores will reopen in a new role, workers previously employed at those locations are not necessarily guaranteed a role in the new positions.
The closures mark about 10 percent of all the Sam's Club locations nationwide.
In a note, Sam's Club president and CEO John Furner said that there were stores hindering business at other locations, or that were operating in areas that were not seeing the population growth that had been expected.
"We’ve decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy,'' he wrote. "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.''
Furner said that the company would try "to place as many associates as possible in new roles at nearby locations.''
Those who do not get new positions in the company will get two months pay and severance if eligible.