TAMPA, Fla. - The South Tampa Sam’s Club is back, but it's not what shoppers might think.
Last year, the location closed and was turned into a warehouse for online orders. Now, part of it has re-opened to retail with a focus on new technology.
The fulfillment center off South Dale Mabry Highway has only a limited retail area where members can buy some of the chain’s most popular items. It’s housed in the part of the building that used to stock tires.
The floor-to-ceiling warehouse feel is gone. There are no fresh or frozen food items, and customers won’t know what’s in stock before they arrive.
“What we're trying to do that is make sure that when members want to do things differently; they want to purchase differently -- whether it's lockers or pick up or to your doorstep, which is what this site does -- this location just gave us an opportunity, based on how it’s laid out, to be able to add it and see what people think about it,” manager Bill Ball explained.
Using the Sam’s smart phone app, members can ring up something and pay through the “scan and go" option.
The rest of the warehouse will still be for processing and shipping online orders like a mini-Amazon.
“What we've done is taken some of these clubs and converted them to fulfilment centers to try to increase our speed,” Ball continued.”
Many confused customers didn’t see the point in having a small store, especially when it's not even a pick-up spot for online orders.
“Definitely a different experience,” one customer said. ”We ended up just getting cat food.”
“I don't like it,” another added.
“Total disappointment,” a third laughed.
Managers did say the site could become a pickup spot down the line.