As of Monday afternoon, store associates were stocking the final shelves at the new Sam’s Club in Oxford, the site of a ribbon cutting Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
According to club manager Tarah Pounders, the store will employ 170 people from the Oxford-Anniston area. The location is the 648th nationally and the 14th club in Alabama. Sam’s Club employs more than 1,200 Alabamians currently.
According to the company’s website, Sam’s Club has $56 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 110,000 associates.
Oxford’s location is 137,500 square feet and features products for both businesses and individuals.
“We reach out to all different kinds of members, from single, in college, to married with five kids,” Pounders said. “The store has products that appeal to any age.”
Products are arranged together by type and then by size throughout the store. The perimeter of the store features aisles of bulk purchases that mostly stay the same throughout the year. In the center, toward the front of the store, is the seasonal section.
According to Pounders, this section caters to whatever the current season is and the type of community in which the Sam’s Club is located. For time being, Auburn and Alabama paraphernalia takes up a large portion of the seasonal area, placed next to kayaks at reduced prices.
“We’re getting ready for tailgating, but it is still summer,” Pounders said.
On Monday afternoon, center-section lead Steve Salamanca could be found in the seasonal section, loading goods onto the shelves. Salamanca takes care of merchandising for the store.
“I generally am in charge of making sure everything looks good,” Salamanca said. “I’m closing the store on opening day, so I’ll be trying to keep everything running smoothly.”
Opening day doesn’t just involve opening the doors to members, either. According to Pounders, the Oxford band and cheerleaders will be outside the location at 8 a.m. on Thursday performing. A coffee wagon from Café Trolley will be available to provide customers with coffee, and associates will be available to sign up new members. Vendors will also be present to provide samples and cooking tips for customers.
Pounders said it’s important for the store to be accessible to small local businesses, too, if applicable. One such vendor, Jim Bordeaux, will be present with his family to provide samples of his sauces and condiments sold in the store.
“The easiest way for local sellers to get involved with selling their products in the store is to come to me first because I know who to put them in touch with at the national level,” Pounders said.
Besides local goods, the store’s big sellers are the top choice meats in produce, Frito Lay products, Nestle bottled water, and Daily Chef’s canned chicken breast, Pounders said.
While most of the products are available in bulk, night merchandiser Spentae Jackson said customers of all ages could find something at the location. Jackson, a marketing student at Jacksonville State University, said being a member is a good way to save money on products someone would normally buy anyway.
“The store has a lot of stuff at much lower prices than most grocery stores,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s day-to-day job involves merchandising, stocking the shelves, and operating the forklift.
Repeated attempts to reach Oxford City Council members for comment were unsuccessful. Pounders said the city and the Chamber of Commerce had been helpful in preparation for opening, though.
“Job Station hosted us in their hiring center, too, and sent us great candidates to employ,” Pounders said.
While Pounders said there were already a large number of Sam’s Club members in the local area, incentives have been available for new members leading up to the opening. New members who sign up before Wednesday evening will receive a $40 gift card for a $100 membership or a $20 gift card for a $45 membership.
The first Sam’s Club opened in 1983 and catered to businesses. The company saw an opportunity in marketing memberships to individual customers and families, though, and began selling products in bulk, Pounders said.