Sam's Club

Sam's Club, 7050 Watts Rd. on Madison's Far West Side, was closed Thursday, will reopen Friday but permanently close on Jan. 26. Walmart announced the closure on Thursday. 

BARRY ADAMS, STATE JOURNAL

The closing of the Sam’s Club on Jan. 26 will bring to an end a nearly 30-year run for the warehouse retailer in Madison.

It opened 20 years before the first Costco store arrived in the Madison market. Since then the grocery landscape has undergone significant change and upheaval.

The 106,000-square-foot store was part of a $20 million project that included a 110,000-square-foot Walmart across the parking lot. But since they opened in 1988, the Madison area has become one of the most competitive grocery markets in the Midwest. The additions have included Costco stores in Middleton and Sun Prairie, a Walmart Supercenter in Monona, a Festival Foods in Downtown Madison and the addition of Target stores with grocery in Sun Prairie, Fitchburg and on Junction Road in Madison.

Woodman’s has expanded its two Madison stores and added a store in Sun Prairie, Iowa-based grocer Hy-Vee has opened three stores and Metcalfe’s Market at Hilldale Shopping Center has transformed from a Sentry into a higher-end grocer while adding a store at West Towne. The market has also seen the disappearance of Kohl’s and Copps grocery stores and the expansion of Pick ’n Save, now owned by Kroger.

On Thursday shoppers arrived at the Sam’s Club to find the doors locked and signs saying the store would reopen Friday but close for good on Jan. 26. Pharmacy prescriptions will be transferred to the nearby Walmart.

Melissa Paul, of Stoughton, works in Madison and had just changed her membership to Sam’s Club after having a Costco membership. Paul, who was among those who found the Sam’s Club store closed Thursday, said she’ll likely rejoin Costco.

“I’m shocked. My parents always shopped here and I’ve shopped here,” Paul said. “Every time we came the parking lot was always full.”

While it’s unclear what will become of the Sam’s Club property, it could open the door for Walmart to improve its presence on Madison’s Far West Side. Walmart has upgraded many of its locations in southern Wisconsin over the years and in 2007 opened a Supercenter in Monona along the Beltline. The closing of the Sam’s Club could allow Walmart to convert the property into a new Walmart store while keeping the nearby existing store open until it is completed.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.