Makeover in store for Sam's Club

CHAMPAIGN - Sam's Club in Champaign is undergoing a makeover.

The members-only, volume-discount store recently acquired a building permit for $2.1 million worth of work.

?We're adding a pharmacy, an optical shop, a one-hour photo store, a floral department and an expanded meat department selling rotisserie chicken and ribs,? said Kevin Vite, the store's general manager. ?We're installing a new cafe, adding new entrances and exits and updating our layout and the building itself.?

The 130,000-square-foot store, at 915 W. Marketview Drive, C, is 11 years old, he said. Remodeling should be finished this summer.

?The timetable is about 14 weeks, with the finish date scheduled for July 11,? Vite said. ?We started a week ago, and we're now in our second week into the project.?

Adding new services will mean new hiring at Sam's, but Vite said he didn't know precisely how many people would be added. The store already employs 195.

Sam's will add an eye doctor, a pharmacist, a photo store manager and photofinishing employees, as well as new employees in the meat department, Vite said. Applications are now being taken.

Vite said the remodeling project has ?been in the process for a couple years.?

?Sam's saw it was a growing market and thought it would be an added benefit to members and to Champaign-Urbana,? he said. ?The biggest difference will be a complete new front, with new entrances and exits and an updated signing package.?

On the north side of the store, new tire bays and a new tire showroom will be added, he said.

And at the new cafe, customers will be able to order pizza, hot dogs, Polish sausage, salads, ice cream, pretzels and cookies, among other things.

When the remodeling is complete, customers will notice a difference in where merchandise is located. Jewelry will move toward the middle of the store, close to where the clothing is now. Clothing will move up front near the registers. Electronics will move to the right-hand side of the store.

Choice Construction is the general contractor for the project, Vite said.

Vite has worked at the store for four years and has been its general manager since June. He said Sam's has about 85,000 members in East Central Illinois.

Some are ?business? members who own and operate their own businesses. Others are ?advantage? members who qualify for membership by virtue of some common trait, such as working for the same company.

Sam's Club is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday for ?advantage? customers. Business customers have exclusive access to the store from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

You can reach Don Dodson at (217) 351-5227 or via e-mail at

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