Sam’s Club Goes High-End for the Holidays

Nov 01, 2006 8:30 PM  By

Which multichannel merchant is selling a Cessna Citation Mustang Light Jet for $2.7 million this holiday season? No, it’s not Neiman Marcus. It’s Sam’s Club.

A division of Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club hopes to attract new members to its discount club by selling what it dubs Once-in-a-Lifetime or Wow gifts. This is the third year of the Wow gifts program, says Susan Koehler, senior manager of corporate communications for Sam’s Club, but the first time that the gifts have been this lavish. Other Once-in-a-Lifetime gifts, available in the Sam’s Club holiday catalog and online, include a $44,000 package to fly to London to see Tony Bennett perform and meet him backstage, as well as five nights’ deluxe accommodations; 280 tickets for a special prescreening of the upcoming film “Marshall University” for $2,400; and an 18-carat diamond necklace for $28,000.

“We were looking at ways to enhance our member experience and bring a combination of merchandise and experience that is truly unique,” Koehler says. “It’s something we work on year-round. It’s fun for us and fun for the customer.”

The items are part of Wal-Mart’s strategy for attracting more affluent customers to both Sam’s Club and the flagship brand. To that end, the company has added better-quality fashion and décor items to its product mix, bought ads for Wal-Mart in high-end fashion magazines such as “Vogue,” and recently redesigned