Sam's Club exit in Alaska shakes businesses statewide

Markets Associated Press

Sam's Club announced that it will close its three Alaska stores by Jan. 26.

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In response, hundreds of people visited the Fairbanks warehouse on Friday for a liquidation sale that symbolized a shift in suppliers for many businesses, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

The Sam's Club in Fairbanks is the largest bulk wholesale store within 350 miles (563 kilometers). It is one of 63 that Sam's Club is closing nationwide — about 10 percent of its total number of stores.

The other two Alaska stores closing are in Anchorage.

"With Alaska, the cost of delivery and the logistics in delivering merchandise and making sure we have the right merchandise at the right time for our members was very difficult," said Delia Garcia, a Sam's Club spokeswoman. "Obviously, that is a factor that we would take into account."

Trucking business Sourdough Express said on its Facebook page that it will conduct weekly Costco runs from Anchorage to meet demand for bulk products in Fairbanks. The service is intended more for business shoppers than individuals.

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Josh Norum, director of operations for Sourdough Express, said about 20 local businesses inquired about the service as of Friday.

"I just threw some numbers together and came up with a route that could work for us and could possibly be a cost-saving solution for them," he said.

Alaska residents also have started an online petition urging Costco to open in Fairbanks.

An employee at the Costco investor relations office said the store doesn't comment on new locations until they are ready to announce plans to open.

Daniel Kamin, owner of the 150,000-square-foot building that the Sam's Club occupies, said he learned of the store's closing Thursday through media reports. He said he is already looking for a new tenant.

"We'll see what we can come up with," Kamin said. "This is not unusual. We are used to it."

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com