The first Sam's Club opened on April 7, 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma in the United States.
In 1989, Sam's entered New Jersey with a store in Delran in a former Two Guys/Jefferson Ward/Bradlees store. This was Walmart's first foray into the Northeast. The first Walmart discount store in New Jersey opened in 1991 in Turnersville. The company entered the Pennsylvania market in 1990.
In 1993, Walmart acquired PACE Membership Warehouse from Kmart and converted many (but not all) PACE locations into Sam's Clubs.
The latest flagship store opening as of September 13, 2007 (2007 -09-13) was in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The largest Sam's Club store is located in Fullerton, California with 184,000 sq ft (17,100 m2) of retail space.
On September 24, 2006, Sam's Club received a new logo. The new logo has an updated serif font and features a green and blue diamond inside the big blue diamond, found above the word 'Sam's'.
Sam's Club's previous slogan was "We Are In Business For Small Business" until 2006, the decision to remove the slogan comes as Sam's Club attempts to remove itself from serving just small businesses and open up to more individual customers.
In December 2007. Sam's Club launched a new slogan, "Enjoy the Possibilities". Since then it became an official advertising slogan, mentioned in television and radio advertisements, but it is not mentioned on its website. As of early January 2008 the "Enjoy the Possibilities" slogan was no longer in use. Sam's Club launched their latest slogan "Savings Made Simple" in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Starting in April 2007 there was speculation of a possible sale or spinoff of Sam's Club from parent company Walmart. At Walmart's 2007 annual shareholder's meeting in June, management said that Sam's Club is not for sale, although they didn't say they are not considering a spinoff.
On February 26, 2009, Walmart Canada announced that it would close all six of its Canadian Sam's Club locations. This was part of Walmart Canada's decision to shift focus towards supercentre stores, but some industry observers suggested that the operation was struggling in competition with Costco and the non-membership The Real Canadian Superstore (known as Maxi & Cie in Quebec), that had a well-established history in the country.
In January 2010, it was announced that ten stores would be closed, including four in California. At the same time, Sam's will open six new stores at various locations in the United States.
On January 24, 2010, it was announced that approximately 11,200 Sam's Club employees would be laid off. The layoffs resulted from the decision to outsource product sampling duties to an outside company (Rogers, Arkansas-based Shopper Events, which already performs in-store product demonstrations for Walmart) and to eliminate New Business Membership Representative positions throughout the chain. Most of the laid-off employees were part-time and represented about 10% of the total Sam's Club workforce.
Like other warehouse clubs, Sam's Club sells most of its merchandise in bulk and directly off pallets. The clubs are arranged much like warehouses, with merchandise stocked in warehouse-style steel bins. As of January 31, 2009 (2009 -01-31) there were 602 Sam's Clubs in the United States. Products sold include jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, crystal and collectibles, electronics, floral, apparel, food and meats. Most locations have Pharmacy, Tire and Battery, Photo, Bakery, Optical, Café and Floral departments. Sam's Club markets items under the private labels Member's Mark, Bakers & Chefs, and Sam's Club — including products by Richelieu Foods, a private label manufacturer of frozen pizza, salad dressing, sauces, marinades, condiments and deli salads. Sam's Club does not sell the Sam's Choice or Great Value brands, that are available in Wal-mart stores. Another notable feature in most locations is the presence of stands at which Shopper Events employees prepare various food products for members to sample before purchasing.
Sam's Club has more than 47 million U.S. members and operates more than 580 clubs nationwide, as well as more than 100 international locations in Brazil, China, and Mexico. There are also stores in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
A typical Sam's Club stands between 71,000 square feet (6,600 m2) and 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2). The Sam's Club division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. had total sales revenue of US$46.9 billion for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2009. Sam's primary competitor is Costco Wholesale.
Sam's Club opened their first Business Center in Houston, Texas, in August 2008. Converted from an existing Sam's location, the Business Center is similar in concept to Costco's Business Centers.
A fleet of private trucks offers delivery service within a 25-mile (40 km) radius on orders of at least $250. The trucks are capable of storing frozen, refrigerated and dry items.
The Business Center is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and unlike the Costco Business Centers, that are closed on Sundays, the Sam's Business Center is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Membership is required to purchase at Sam's Club (except at the cafe, for prescription drugs where federal law prohibits sales to members only, as well as liquor and gasoline in some states); however, a one-time day pass may be obtained from many Walmart newspaper ads. A 10% surcharge is added (except where forbidden by local laws) to the prices for non-members, except for optical, pharmacy, cafe, or alcohol items where available. All memberships are 100% refundable at any time for any reason, even on the date that it is to be renewed.
Renewal of memberships can be done via the internet, through the mail, in-club at the Membership Services desk, any cash register, and also at the new ATM/Membership kiosks (the latter only available in select locations).
Sam's Club memberships are divided into three categories: Business, Advantage, and Plus. The Plus membership offers discounts and deals for a few services and products within Sam's (similar to free 12-month extended warranty for every extended warranty purchased) and more offered for outside goods and services. As with the Advantage and Business memberships, Plus memberships are 100% refundable.
Sam's Club locations accept Sam's Club and Wal-mart Credit Cards, Discover Card, MasterCard, debit cards, Wal-mart and Sam's Club gift cards, cash or checks. As of March 2009 EBT SNAP benefits are accepted. MasterCard was added as an option on November 9, 2006. Visa credit cards are still not accepted, because of the high processing fees compared with Wal-mart's discounted rates with Mastercard, although in the past it was accepted during testing periods. However Visa debit cards are accepted in most clubs. American Express is not accepted. Their online website, samsclub.com, accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card.
Sam's Club offers store credit lines to individuals and businesses linked to the member's membership card. Sam's Club also offers a Sam's Club Discover Card that can be used at Sam's Club and anywhere Discover Cards are accepted, Advantage and Business Members can receive up to 1% cash rewards from the Sam's Club Discover and Advantage/Business Plus members can receive up to 2% cash rewards. The Sam's Discover card replaces the member's regular membership card.