Employee: Sam's Club on Laburnum Avenue closing

Employee: Sam's Club on Laburnum Avenue closing
Several Sam's Clubs across the U.S. had these signs Thursday.

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The Sam's Club on South Laburnum Avenue is closing, according to an employee at the store.

"I'm feeling devastated, just devastated," explained one employee. "I've been very happy with it, and just to receive this notice on my doorstep, when I go shopping at my own store, and find it's closed...it's just devastating."

"The closure of Sam's Club 4788 will be permanent," according to a letter shared with NBC12 on Thursday:

In a phone call to the store, a voicemail says the store is closed Thursday, but will reopen Friday morning.

"They just were open and busy! I'm not really sure what's happening," a customer said while leaving the store.

The letter says the store will close to the public on Jan. 26. Employees last work day on payroll will be March 16.

The store's location at 4571 S. Laburnum Ave. also no longer shows up on the company's website:

The Richmond location is one of several Sam's Club to close across the country.

"I am literally in shock," said one woman.

Shoppers spent most of the day driving to the South Laburnum store, surprised to see a sign saying the store was closed for the day and learning it would close for good in just two weeks.

"We come here because you save money and it makes life a little easier, you know, for those valuable savings - they're not thinking about that," explained one customer.

Many people are worried about the overall economic impact the store closing will have on Eastern Henrico. Tyrone Nelson, a member of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, says the store coming to White Oak Village almost a decade ago has remained a positive asset to the community.

"We try to promote to our residents to keep their dollars in the eastern part of the county, that's how you spur more development," explained Nelson.

Nelson says his district waited a long time for a "big box retailer" like Sam's Club to move into the area.

"It's bigger than just losing a store. This really is going to impact our area, and it's a sad day," said Nelson.

That sadness was felt among employees, who said their experience working at the store has been positive.

"It gives me some peace of mind, it gives me peace of mind knowing they are offering some options," said the employee. "What makes me feel somewhat better is it's not just me. It's not like I'm getting outright terminated. There's time and options to stay with the company if I choose."

Sam's Club says they hope many employees will choose to stay with the company by transferring to other stores, and they will work to make that happen.

Hourly employees will receive compensation for 60 days while they look for other opportunities at nearby Sam's Clubs or Walmarts, and if they have not transferred to another location by the end of the 60 days, they will receive severance.

"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," the company said on social media throughout the early afternoon.

"Closing clubs is never easy and we're committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition," the company said.

The closures come as Walmart, the parent company of Sam's, announced plans to increase the starting wage rate for all hourly associates in the U.S. to $11.

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