Sam's Club closure impacts Alaska small businesses
Joe Gerace arrived at the Sam’s Club on Old Seward at 7:15 on Thursday morning. He was promptly greeted by a security guard who told him the store was closed for the day.
“They’re a significant part of my business, so I said, ‘What’s going on?’” Gerace said.
The guard told Gerace the store would be back open on Friday at 10 a.m. but was closing for good on January 26.
Gerace said he counts on the bulk buys for his Dimond Chevron store. More than 300 items on the shelves come from that one retailer.
“I don't have another source for boxes of juice from Sam's Club,” he said.
Gerace said he does about $50,000 worth of business there every month. His shelves were looking a little bare Thursday afternoon because he wasn’t able to pick up his order.
“We're out of Kit Kats, that's the best selling candy bar around. We just didn't receive any of our supplies. We come out of there with a pallet worth of stuff at least once a week,” Gerace said.
He said Sam’s Club was very small business-friendly. Workers would pull orders the night before and there were special hours for business owners to swing by before the store opened to the public and pick up their goods.
“I would go in, grab a couple of things we ran out of overnight and throw it in the cart and be out of there in under 10 to 15 minutes,” he explained. “Now I’m going to spend hours in some of the other big box stores.”
Gerace said he already runs his business on a tight margin; even an extra 10 percent cost can eat up his profits for a year.
He hopes to find other suppliers but said that’s a struggle right now.
“Everyone was caught in a lurch. I called all my other food vendors and they're like we don't have anything to offer you,” he said.
When he does find other options, he’s worried the price of his goods will go up and that could ultimately mean more money coming out of his customers’ pockets.
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