A hole in the market

Store closure a worry to owners, officials

OBSERVER Photo by Erie Tichy A line of customers wait to enter Sam’s Club on Friday morning in the town of Ellicott, a day after the store announced it would close Jan. 26. Many said they were disappointed in the sudden announcement, but were looking for good deals, nonetheless.

ELLICOTT — The impact of Sam’s Club closing later this month will likely be felt in a number of areas, including nonprofits and local businesses who rely on the deep discounted items in one form or another.

County Legislator Lisa Vanstrom, R-Jamestown, who represents the town of Ellicott, said the store’s closing will likely have a negative impact on the area. She said her first thought was for those who will lose their jobs, and hopes that Wal-Mart will be able to offer them other positions.

“That is quite a blow to this economy that is on the upswing,” Vanstrom said.

“My heart goes out to those who may be displaced.”

Vanstrom said she frequently shopped at Sam’s Club and was surprised by Thursday’s announcement.

“This will be a challenge, not just for our household, but also those who travel from far and wide,” she said.

Vanstrom said she is not privy to what the plans are for the building. With the need that is left behind, she said she is hopeful that other local businesses will be able to help fill any gaps left by the store.

“I hope our own world-class, local companies can help meet that need,” she said.

Jeff Smith, St. Susan Center executive director, said the future closure came as a shock. St. Susan Center receives food often from Sam’s Club and purchases a lot of bulk items from the store regularly. He said the way those items are purchased will now have to be re-evaluated.

“It’s a big loss,” Smith said. “It’s going to hurt the entire community. Everyone shops there for something.”

Items such as paper products and other bulk items will most likely have to be ordered elsewhere, Smith said. He said staff from St. Susan Center visited Sam’s Club on Thursday to stock up on a few items.

“This is all kind of new to us,” he said. “We haven’t formulated a game plan yet.”

Smith noted that the center is open for those who need it.

“For all the folks impacted, we’re here to support them,” he said of those who may have lost their employment due to the closure. “If (you’re) in need, we’re happy to feed you until you can get back on your feet again. We’ll get through this.”

The Pub, a favorite restaurant and bar in downtown Jamestown, will also be heavily impacted, according to owner Sam Lisciandro.

“It’s horrible,” Lisciandro said. “We would go every week. It was cheaper for us to go there and get things for our business.”

Lisciandro said he attempted to enter Sam’s Club on Wednesday morning but was turned away. He said he ended up going to the Sam’s Club in Erie, Pa., instead. He said he doesn’t know how it will work out in the future.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “If (local business owners) have to use other options that are more expensive, people will have to raise their prices.”

Lisciandro said he also feels bad for those who could lose their jobs.