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Sam Club, for one, is rolling out the red carpet and inviting them in with open arms. A two-age spread in ID’s sister publication, Restaurant Business, this month invites operators to “lower their food costs for every meal” and to take a cost comparison at their local club to see if they’ve been overpaying other suppliers.

It cites an example of an operator who supposedly saved more than $32,000 by purchasing “a few essentials” over the course of a year at Sam’s Club, including $16,426.80 saved on straws and $2,863.95 on trash bags.

The club’s appeal to operators goes beyond the chance to save money on purchases in tough economic times. It also touts value-added programs, such as attractive cash-back rewards, low printing and shipping costs, a complimentary Web site for their operations, online advertising packages and business insurance services. Additional perks such as online ordering, special hours for business members and no minimum orders are touted, as well.

The ad coincides with Sam’s Club’s 2009 Small Business Savings Drive, part of a campaign that culminates during National Small Business Week May 22.  During the drive, club associates are going out to small businesses in their communities and work with owners and managers to identify cost-saving opportunities. Their goal: to find at least $270 million in savings by comparing the prices of similar products to items available at Sam’s Club.

‘The success of small business is key to our nation’s economic recovery and we want to be part of the solution,” said Cindy Davis, executive vice president of membership. “Pennies matter more than ever for today’s small business owner and helping them find as much or more than thousands of dollars in savings has a real impact and can mean keeping a new employee, expanding or financing a start-up.”

Last year, Sam’s conducted pilot cost comparisons resulted in 5,300 invoice comparisons and the identification of more than $3.5 million in savings, the company says. It is guaranteeing it can help small businesses save and will refund any business membership at any time if the member isn’t satisfied.

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