Sam's Club is a members-only division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. that caters to suburban grocery shoppers and small businesses. Membership to the club entitles you to shop at any one of 500-plus Sam's Club warehouse-style stores across the U.S. for discounted brand-name items ranging from fresh food and clothes to electronics, auto supplies and home furniture.
The merchandise is often sold in bulk and economy sizes to ensure the high-volume sales needed to sustain a business with low profit margins. In addition, members are eligible to purchase services at discounted or group rates, including:
- AOL internet service
- auto repair insurance
- a personal credit account
- yellow pages advertising
- printed checks
- dental and health insurance
- long distance phone service
- mail-order pharmaceuticals
- software training
- package travel deals
- access to boat and auto buying programs.
Joining the Club can be done at two levels: basic memberships are sold to valid city/state businesses, licensed professionals and the public; these regular memberships can be upgraded to a Plus Membership for additional benefits like roadside assistance and lower premiums on dental and health insurance. Standard memberships are about $35 per year, while Plus memberships cost $100 a year.
Sam's Club, its parent company, Wal-Mart, and its main competitor, Costco, Inc., belong to a group of nationwide chain stores commonly referred to as "big-box" retailers; these big-box stores offer a wide range of products and have immense dimensions. A typical Sam's Club warehouse encompasses between 110,000 and 130,000 square feet (10,300 - 12,000 square meters) of concrete floors and floor-to-ceiling steel racks stacked with merchandise.