Sam’s Club brings discounts – but most importantly, jobs – to Rock Hill

Herald columnistSeptember 26, 2013 

In the back of the huge Sam’s Club Thursday, opening day with crowds so huge seeking the cheapest toilet paper anywhere, stood a woman named Sherrie Boarman.

At 50, she wore the Sam’s Club blue shirt and a smile and the title “claims associate.”

Boarman also displayed a big smile because she has a good job with benefits that include health insurance.

“I worked 14 years for a company,” Boarman said of her former job with a subcontractor for postal services. “I survived nine layoffs. The 10th layoff was the one that got me.”

Sam’s Club brings cheap bulk prices, without question, to a county with almost a quarter-million people in it.

But with more than 8 percent unemployment in York County – which translates to thousands out of work – and more in Chester and Lancaster counties, Sam’s Club for Boarman is a way to make a living.

Sam’s Club brings huge packages of cheese and sausage and almonds and plastic forks and so many other things, but what it brings most is jobs to an area that needs every job it can get.

“This place gives me a new career,” Boarman said. “I am so fortunate. Every person here is fortunate. I feel, really, like I have been reborn.”

After five years of recession, Sam’s Club with its jobs is unemployment penicillin.

This is not some corporate relocation from Carowinds Boulevard at the state line with North Carolina and Charlotte, or in the Panhandle of Lancaster County, where companies move an office across the state line for tax breaks and no real working person gets a job.

These are new jobs, mostly jobs that won’t make somebody rich. They are blue-collar service jobs, but jobs that give the dignity and vitality of work that can raise families.

The Rock Hill Sam’s Club creates 175 jobs and employs about 185 people total, said Lori Hernandez, the assets manager for the store, who herself came from two decades in banking. There are customer service, warehouse and management jobs, people baking rolls and selling tires – and everything in between.

In the bakery, decorating cakes, smiling and talking to customers like she owned the joint, was Latoya Fair. She is 36 and has two kids.

Sam’s offers jobs to people such as her who need to have a job with benefits that will feed a family and pay the bills, Fair said.

“I was among the first 30 people hired here,” she said. “Everybody has been saying for years that Rock Hill was big enough for a Sam’s, needed a Sam’s, and now it is here. At the same time Rock Hill needs jobs. Sam’s brought all these jobs here.

“You see people working here with a smile on their face. I sure have one.”

Amber Morgan is a manager in the center section of the store, where all those huge banks of case goods are. Yet she is just 21. She even helped with the recruitment and hiring of other people who now work for her.

Sam’s gives her a chance to work, get experience, manage people, more.

“The jobs are important to Rock Hill,” Morgan said.

For Justin Carter, 25, who works in produce, the job he has at Sam’s might give him a chance at a career.

“I needed a job,” Carter said. “I filled out the application online, then came here the first day they were hiring and was in the first group hired.

“I want to work. This is a good job, a chance at something.”

Sam’s is a big place and most of the jobs are service. Most require workers to be on both feet for hours. Customer service, blue-collar. There are young people and older people working. The jobs are real work, and concrete floors are unforgiving.

Hernandez, the assets manager, talked about the blisters on her feet from the past few days of long hours to prepare for the store’s opening.

But she has a job, a good job. Sherrie Boarman, Latoya Fair, Amber Morgan, Justin Carter, and 180 others, have jobs.

Jobs come with paychecks. Paychecks raise kids and keep banks off the backs of people who are willing to work.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •  adys@heraldonline.com

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