Sam’s Club Offers Financial, Marketing Boost to Small Businesses

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Sam’s Club Offers Financial, Marketing Boost to Small Businesses

By Thad Rueter - 04/24/2020
Food retailers seek to help customers and suppliers
Sam's Club is providing financial assistance to small businesses

Sam’s Club will donate $1 million to a national non-profit organization that provides financing to small businesses – one of the latest ways that food retailers are trying to offset the massive economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members-only retailer said those donations could ultimately help small businesses that buy from Sam’s Club to at least stay on their feet until the economy starts to reopen. Many businesses source food and related supplies from Sam’s Club, which, of course, also sells food to individual consumers.

Sam’s Club will donate that sum to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, which says it “works with a vast network of community-based partners to make investments” in business and other sectors. LISC is working to provide financial assistance to small businesses hurt by the pandemic. Some 90% of them have been impacted by the closures and other problems since the spread of the virus, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a trade group.

Small businesses can apply online via LISC to receive $10,000 grants to help offset pandemic losses. “We will deploy grants to help them bridge the financial gap, and deliver technical assistance to help them navigate the intricate web of public and private resources now available,” the nonprofit said. “LISC will focus these efforts on historically underserved communities — especially those enterprises owned or led by women, minorities and veterans, which often lack access to affordable capital.”

Gaining access to fresh capital isn’t the only challenge for small businesses during the pandemic. Visibility also presents a problem – that is, making sure consumers are aware of the many small businesses that are still around even amid these pandemic troubles. To that end, Sam’s Club is taking another step designed to help its small business members.

“We’re giving our own small business members some extra visibility by sharing some of their stories on social and in email,” the food retailer said. “Over the coming weeks, we’ll be collecting information from our small business members on how they are operating in the current environment and distributing that information back out to members in their areas.”

The pandemic promises to bring lasting changes not only to small businesses but to the supply chain for food retail, as a recent analysis from Progressive Grocer shows. Retail chains are already improvising supply chain improvements in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent example comes from Sam’s Club parent Walmart. It is offering its suppliers fresh resources designed to speed the supplier on-boarding process, among other moves. Given the size and influence of Walmart and Sam’s Club, it’s a safe bet their recent moves could encourage other food retailers to make their own changes, even if on a much smaller scale.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc. operates about 11,500 stores under 56 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. The Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.