Happy 40th Birthday, Sam’s Club!

Celebrating You

We’re celebrating the success of Sam Walton’s “experiment” along with a few of our long-time associates.

Sam Walton is one of our country’s most innovative and successful entrepreneurs. But no matter how much he achieved, Mr. Sam never forgot where it all started. 

His humble beginning as the owner of a 5 & 10 in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, gave him firsthand experience with the challenges of running a small business. And he wanted to leverage his resources to help other entrepreneurs succeed. That’s why in 1983, he opened the first Sam’s Wholesale Club in Midwest City, Oklahoma

In a letter to Walmart associates dated March 31, 1983, Mr. Sam announced the launch of the “newest division of our Wal-Mart Company.” 

“As we have often done in the past as a new trend in retailing develops, we want to be one of the first to test it, try it, and see if we can do it better. I must emphasize that this is strictly an experiment for our company… I’m reasonably certain that we can, and will be successful with this new venture.” 

Today there are almost 600 clubs across the U.S. and Puerto Rico (plus locations in Brazil, China and Mexico) and millions of members — so it seems safe to call Mr. Sam’s experiment a huge success! 

Throughout 40 years of growth, it’s our associates who have kept us moving forward and making a difference. What better way to celebrate Sam’s Club’s big 4-0 than by meeting some of our 40-year associates?!

Vanessa (“V”) Vanreed was dancing with joy when she started at the second-ever Sam’s Club in Raymore, Missouri, and she hasn’t stopped since. “I personally stay with the company because of what Sam Walton instilled in me 40 years ago — that we are family and you can accomplish anything in the company.” We dare you to try not to smile after you watch her story! 

We asked a few more 40-year associates about their time with Sam’s Club.

Donna Turner, from Club 677 in Moore, Oklahoma, shares what it was like starting with Sam’s Club four decades ago: “I felt I could belong to a business that was starting a new life and grow with it.” 

Many of us have started lifelong friendships while working in Sam’s Club. “I have met and developed relationships with so many wonderful people over my career. Some of my closest friends have been part of my Sam’s Club family and I have worked for some amazing leaders,” says Wanda Hayes, from Club 8180 in Marion, Illinois. 

Gilbert Zuniga, from Club 8277 in Westworth Village, Texas, says he’s worked with Sam’s for the last 40 years because of his coworkers, the stability and the welcoming culture. “I have learned so much here and have developed a hardworking skill set.”

“When I started with the company, I knew I would be here long term,” says Hellen Baxter, from Club 6655 in Waldorf, Maryland. “It was a welcoming place, a place to grow and a place to call home. I feel as though this is my family and over the years my family just continues to grow.” 

Manny Velasco, from Club 8241 in Midwest City, Oklahoma (yes! the first Sam’s Club!), agrees that our welcoming culture is the reason he’s stayed. “I have had so many great managers and coworkers that have impacted me. The reason I’ve stayed was because I have always had that feeling of family of acceptance.”