We found out Wednesday that our local Sam’s club is closing permanently at the end of this month. Not only ours, but our entire state! Sam’s is the only bulk/warehouse store in our area. It’s a 350 mile drive to Anchorage for Costco. This is going to cause quite a hard time for our family. We get about half our groceries from Sam’s. We can get most of it from Safeway or Fred Meyer, but it’s not bulk, so will cost more. Plus, they don’t offer the brands we like for a few items. We figure this will increase our food costs about 25%. That’s a lot. Either that, or we start eating more basic staples and less expensive foods in general.
Plus, it lowers the selection of fresh produce in town. Lately, that hasn’t been very good to begin with, but with one less store to choose from, it’s pretty bad. We have enjoyed the frozen vegetable selection from Sam’s. They taste good, and are in sizes our family uses without leftovers. Most grocery store packages are too small, so it takes 2 bags. Not to mention the problem of storing all the additional smaller cans, bottles, and boxes compared to the larger sizes.
Everyone in town is hoping another bulk/warehouse store will come in soon. It’s created something of a panic. The lines are crazy long for the clearance sale at Sam’s. They are letting people in the store 100 at a time. People have been standing in lines for hours the past few days, and still today is long lines just to get in.
Anther thing that concerns us is that being in Alaska, if something were to happen that cuts off our supplies, we would be in a very difficult time sooner without the bulk/warehouse store. When 9/11 happened, supplies to Alaska stopped for at least a week. Stores ran out of items, and other things were rationed like rice and flour. Without the bulk items, there’s going to be even less available supplies if another disaster occurs. That is likely considering this is Alaska, so earthquakes aren’t uncommon. Plus, we are dependent upon weather more than the Lower 48, since it takes longer to get items up here either on trucks or barge. Even before Sam’s announced they were closing, our local grocery stores had signs saying due to weather in the Lower 48 they were temporarily out of items. For example, over the weekend, they frozen produce was nearly gone. What was left was small packages and expensive selections of specialty blends. They were out of just about all regular packages. I got the last 3 small bags of frozen spinach to make our dinner that night.
I can understand economics change. But this is going to be a hard hit on us here in interior Alaska. This is on of the problems with national box chain stores. They come in with low prices and better selection, then drive out the local stores. Then when corporate offices decide Alaska is no longer economical for whatever reason, they leave, creating a hardship for the people living here. When Sports Authority closed, that wasn’t too much of a big deal outside the more dedicated sports enthusiasts. The rest of us could adapt. Besides, they weren’t her every long anyway. This is different. There has been a bulk/warehouse store here since the 1980’s. Sam’s bought out the local store. Now Sam’s is leaving, and there is no alternative left.