Surprises await at new Sam’s Club

bbashioum@demo-mo.comOctober 19, 2013 

Welcome to the club.

The newly-constructed Sam’s Club at Highway 58 and Dean Avenue Raymore is a week and a half shy of opening.

The 140,000 square-foot warehouse will open on schedule with a soft launch Tuesday, Oct. 29, with a grand opening celebration planned at 8:30 a.m. the following day.

The new location will replace the club’s Grandview location.

Sam’s Club General Manager Desirée Rutledge is excited about opening the new store in Cass County.

“The decision was difficult, but this has been such a growing community and such a great business opportunity for this area,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge says she has been able to maintain a large number of existing employees from the store’s former location, and has also been able to secure additional new help, including seasonal employees for the upcoming holiday shopping period.

The store is opening with about 190 employees.

The new location is about 30,000 square feet larger than the Grandview location, which is allowing the Bentonville, Ark.-based company to offer a variety of more services to club members.

“We’re kind of a surprise for you,” Rutledge said. “We’re a one-stop shop in so many ways.”

The Grandview store is the second-oldest Sam’s Club location and will close following the opening of the Raymore location.

Upgraded conveniences of the new store include an expanded cafe area, pharmacy, home meal solution options, hearing center and a fresh floral component.

Existing departments include health/beauty, grocery and freezer food items, produce, meats, paper products, snacks, clothing, electronics, home and small business furniture, small kitchen appliances, books, videos, jewelry, and an array of seasonal items.

A few unique items on the store’s shelves include Kenneth Cole shirts, Miss Me jeans, North Face jackets and Ugg boots. Special food items that will be available during the opening include Olive Garden and Red Lobster branded products.

Store members also have access to use the Sam’s Gas Station being built in accompany with the new building, which offers a 3-5 cent per gallon discount at the gas pump.

“We give back to our community, and we want to support our community,” Rutledge said.

One of the ways is through promoting items with a local connection.

“We bring in items that are made, produced, or sold, right here in Missouri and in Kansas City,” Rutledge said.

The business also aims to be charitable.

On the west side of the store is a community wall noting local contributions made by Sam’s Club. In additional to numerous volunteer hours, Rutledge led her team to raise $20,000 for charity last year.

“That (wall is) where we show what we’re able to able to give to the community through our volunteerism and the funds that we raised,” Rutledge said.

Sam’s Club offers two annual membership packages, a $45 and $100 option.

Area economic development leaders say the county will benefit from the sales tax revenues generated by the new store.

“It’s going to bring sales tax dollars over from the Jackson County side to Cass County, which not only benefits the local community of Raymore, but also the sales tax that the county receives,” Cass County Economic Development Director Melissa Freeman said. “At the CCED, we see that the whole county benefits by having more dollars for county services.”

Freeman reaffirmed that Interstate 49 distinction along the former U.S. 71 Highway is becoming an interest point to large businesses looking to grow in Cass County.

“It’s put us on the radar for major real estate search firms,” Freeman said. “They’re from everywhere from Colorado to Chicago…but they’re taking notice.”

When a community gets a business like Sam’s Club, Freeman said, people from neighboring counties begin to spend their dollars in Cass County.

“It’s really about building an economic ecosystem,” Freeman said. “When people come to Sam’s Club, they may also come to Missouri Mud Company, Ruby Tuesday, or Starbucks, and they spread those dollars around. The multiplier effect starts the day they break ground on the construction, and extends through the life of the company.”

CCED Board Chairman Gary Mallory also commented that more businesses are looking at development in the county now that the interstate designation has been made.

“Cass County is getting more inquiries than we have ever had from companies that are employing more than three people,” Mallory said.

“Since that designation has been changed, the concrete is hardly dry yet, and we have started to get all kinds of inquiries from considerably larger employers more than we have ever had.”

Freeman and Mallory compare the new business interest being generated in Cass County to a baseball game.

“The fact that we’re getting those inquiries, at least we’re in the game now. Before, they didn’t even call us,” Mallory said.

Freeman added, “It’s not always about how runs that you score; it’s how many times that you’re at bat. We used to, unfortunately, have a little trouble getting up to bat. Now, that’s not our problem.”

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