UPDATE Oct. 25, 2013: Sam's Club has extended this offer until Oct. 31, even though the shutdown has been over for more than a week. From Sam's Officials:
“On behalf of every associate that engaged our military communities this month, Sam’s Club says “thank you” to the thousands of patrons who visited our clubs during the shutdown. We know these military families are relieved that shutdown restrictions have been lifted and they can resume a normal routine. To help support our communities through the transition, Sam’s Club has extended our Military Membership waiver program through October 31.”If you live near a Sam's Club and are in the market for bulk groceries, this could be your lucky day. According to Sam's Club officials all military members will be allowed to shop in the members-only warehouse store for free until the government shutdown ends and the commissaries reopen.
"In appreciation for the service that military personnel provide our members and communities, Sam’s Club locations near military bases will waive membership requirements for military personnel, retirees and their families so they may continue saving on everyday goods and groceries," club officials said in a statement.
Edit 4:45 p.m. ET, Oct 3: According to a corporate spokesperson ALL Sam's Club locations are now participating in the military waiver program. Please be patient with your local store as they pass word down to the employees answering the phones and your questions.
The way it works is this: military ID card holders -- Active Duty, Retirees and anyone else with commissary privileges -- can show their military IDs to Sam's Club employees at the door where they would usually have to show their Sam's Club membership. They will then be directed to the membership counter where employees will get them squared with free entrance. They may also be able to skip the membership desk and just show their military ID at checkout.
Edit 3:45 p.m. ET: Sam's Club officials confirm that this is different than the shopping program which allows you to go without a membership but pay a 10 percent service fee at check out. During the waiver program no military member will be charged a fee, Sam's officials said.
"Any proof of past or present service can be shown at Member Services desks or at checkout to waive membership requirements," Carrie Moore, a Sam's Club spokesperson told us. "Greeter associates are happy to help anyone with questions as they enter the club."
It's possible, of course, that this will work a little differently at each club. Just be willing to roll with the punches and you should have no problem.
The free entrance program will continue until the government reopens and with it the commissaries.
Don't know whether or not you have a Sam's Club near you? Use this handy locator on their website to see where your closest one is.