Sam’s Club abruptly closes 63 stores nationwide, lays off thousands

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Customers looking to shop at the Sam’s Club at 2994 Turner Hill Road were met with a security guard and a closed sign. The Stonecrest location is one of 63 stores that abruptly closed across the nation, laying off thousands of employees.

Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said he is seeking another wholesale warehouse store after the abrupt Jan. 11 closing of the Sam’s Club at 2994 Turner Hill Road. The Stonecrest store is one of 63 that the warehouse giant abruptly closed across the nation, laying off thousands of employees.

“I’ve already contacted Costco and they’re interested,” Lary said.

City of Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary addressed members of the media outside of the Sam’s Club.
City of Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary addressed members of the media outside of the Sam’s Club.

Lary said he was outraged to learn the Stonecrest store was closing. Loyal members, who have supported the store for years, expressed their shock, and employees, who learned they no longer had jobs when they reported to work.

“It caught us completely by surprise. There was no warning, not even to the employees. I saw some of them crying,” Lary said during a news conference he held on the closing day outside the store.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based Sam’s Club posted a statement on Twitter saying it was re-evaluating its strategies, in response to questions about the shutdowns nationwide.

“After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition,” Sam’s Club tweeted.

State Rep. Vernon Jones said he is planning to host a meeting with officials of Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Road.

“They told me it (the closings) was a business decision. They’re giving severance packages to some of the employees and relocating others but we’re going to hear from them and let people ask questions,” said Jones.

At On Common Ground News press time, it was unclear if some employees would temporarily remain at the Stonecrest location. A recorded message at the store said the location will permanently close on Jan. 26. The message stated that customers who had prescriptions to be filled could go to the store in Tucker.

An employee at the store said Sam’s Club plans to notify customers by mail within the next week and send them other information they may need. Asked why the Stonecrest store was still accepting new memberships the week of the national shutdowns, the employee said Sam’s Club did not tell employees in advance about its decision to close the stores.

Mayor Lary speaks with Sarah Anderson about the store closing. Photo by Travis Hudgons/OCGNews
Mayor Lary speaks with Sarah Anderson about the store closing.

“We didn’t try to deceive anyone (by taking the memberships). They didn’t even tell us,” the woman said, adding that the memberships can still be used at any location and online. She said she did not know if Sam’s Club planned to refund money to those who did not wish to shop at another location.

A manager at the store referred inquiries to corporate headquarters. On Common Ground News could not reach anyone at the number provided, however.

DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, whose Commission District 5 includes the Stonecrest, said she learned of the closing on the morning that it made the news. She said out of courtesy, store officials should have notified elected officials.

“The community has been patronizing that store since 2003. It just makes sense that they could have given some type of notification,” Johnson said.

The Stonecrest store is the only Sam’s Club in Georgia that is closing, according The 133,000-square-foot store opened on Aug. 7, 2003 as the 13th location in the Atlanta area. About 200 workers were hired, Richard Leaphart, who was the general store manager, said at the time.

Lary said it’s hard to imagine that the Stonecrest store was underperforming as he witnessed a steady stream of vehicles passing by during his press conference. A security guard stood out in the rain telling stunned customers the store was no longer open and re-directing them to the Sam’s Club at 1940 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Tucker, about 16 miles away.

Sarah Anderson, a customer who drove from Stone Mountain, said that she shopped at the Stonecrest location weekly, and was shocked by the closing.

“I didn’t know they were closing. This was my store of choice—I love this store,” Anderson said.

The Stonecrest Sam’s Club closing comes on the heels of other stores in South DeKalb closing including Kroger at 965 N. Hairston Road, Stone Mountain (closed Oct. 13, 2017); Publix, 2075 S. Hairston Road, Decatur (closing March 3, 2018); and Walmart supermarket, 6152 Covington Highway (closing Jan. 30, 2018).

Jones said elected officials have been invited to attend the Town Hall meeting at the Stonecrest Library. For more information, contact State Rep. Vernon Jones at 404-656-0287 or email

Staff members Travis Hudgons and Glenn L. Morgan contributed to this report.   

On Common Ground News


  • Deborah Hayes

    January 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I just like to stop in there sometimes just for lunch!! Almost stopped by there today!
    The store was large, spacious, and clean unlike Mountain Industrial, which was also a bit pricier, especially on gas and water!


  • S

    January 11, 2018 at 6:07 pm


    Though I’m not from the Stonecrest/ Lithonia community, I like going to the area for quality shopping.. so I could imagine the thoughts of the residences to hear that Stonecrest Sam’s club was closing and the employees..I don’t know about them ,but I would be pissed. Bills have to be paid and the kids need to be fed. At least if Sam’s Club said they were closing they should have been professional about it. Its funny how they semi did it with the Sam’s club in Tucker and Clairmont but ” suddenly ” closed the store there.

    Its also ironic how there have been so many stores that have been disappearing/ on the verge of doing it in the South DeKalb community such as

    Publix(On South Hairston) will be closing on March 2018
    Walmart Neighborhood Grocery store(Closing at the end of January)

    AMC was revered to a New Visions theatre in 2017.

    And then retail would be Sears in January..and the month have not even ended

    Its frustrating to see these stores close at such a high rate. People like me want quality shopping. I live in Larry Johnson’s district and if anybody know this area..let’s just say that a big chunk of his area is depressing and I say that respectively: plenty of dollar stores, 5 and dime grocery stores..with one of them being on the news for saying that the citizens didn’t need nice shopping because the neighborhood was ” low income ” ( which not everybody in Larry’s community is that) and there is a great deal of blight that is visible to the naked eye.

    The people in his district want quality shops and grocery stores but now that these stores are going/ on the verge of going out of business in Stonecrest..our chances of his community acquiring these stores are not good and I don’t want the ” for profit” stores to permeate either as the already are. If I’m not shopping at Stonecrest, I go to Camp Creek because I like going to places where I can eat,work,shop and live and its being reasonable. I can’t do that where I live..unless you’re into provocative / urban wear..and at my age I think!

    Seriously though… I’m afraid if this unfortunate ” trend” of store closures keep happening ,Stonecrest and the rest of South DeKalb will further become a undesirable hub for people to open junk stores. Once a store closes in South DeKalb,either the store remains empty or its replaced by a
    ” junk ” store.


  • Gerald Barger

    January 11, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    All members should ask for refund of membership dues. This is the only Sam’s store on the south side. Will start using BJ’s.


  • PB3

    January 13, 2018 at 8:37 am

    What is really going on in our community? I was in Miami when my wife told me about the store closing. I immediately asked… why? Not expecting an answer, but it seemed to be the right question. I went online seeking more information.

    I found a few national articals which tried to be factual in telling the “company’s” side of things. The one thing that jump off the pages was “they wanted to market and position their stores in areas with household incomes of $75,000 – $125,000.” WTF are they saying…South Dekalb is still one of the wealthiest African American communities in the country, so we know that’s a lie. Not only is the household income element met, the fact that the store drew customers from Conyers, Gwinett and Henry counties would also challenge household income was a reason.

    This is what I think is going on… and it will sound like a Dick Gregory theriest line. It seems like ever since The City of Stonecrest presented its proposal to AMAZON to have its own city and when the offer BLEW UP nationally, store closings in our area seemed to be announced ever other week.

    Let’s see what happens next. Lowes, Home Depot, gas stations. If this trend continues we must conduct a much deeper dive.

    Where am I going with my theory? What if a powerful city like Atlanta with its state capitol behind them heard that AMAZON was seriously considering The City of Stonecrest’s proposal. That would shake some very, very powerful people to the core. People who have the ability to make things happen. You may say, they are closing stores around the country. Yes, but there was only ONE in Georgia… only ONE. Why Publix; why Krogers; why Sears. I think if AMAZON sees that South Dekalb can’t sustain its major commercial base it will not come to the area. IJS


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