Gamecock great Marcus Lattimore signs autographs at store opening
Betty Stockman and her daughter, Whitney, of Kershaw County lined up about 7:30 a.m. Thursday to be one of the first customers at the new Sam’s Club in Northeast Richland.
Usually, the two make the 24-mile trek to the Forest Drive store from their home near Elgin to shop in the discount club store, which specializes in bulk purchases.
Because Sam’s Club used to be an extended outing, “We’d end up spending $200,” Betty said, laughing. “Now we can drop by and get an item or two.”
The new 136,000-square-foot store at 733 Fashion Drive near Village at Sandhill was christened Thursday with all the flair of a rock concert – outdoor stage, exuberant emcee, a large crowd of enthusiastic associates and customers, blaring music and local dignitaries like Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Former University of South Carolina football star Marcus Lattimore signed autographs later in the day.
Inside the sprawling building, local vendors offered samples of their wares that are sold by Sam’s Club, and store associates showed off new technologies.
The Columbia store will be one of the first Sam’s Clubs in the country to offer Scan & Go shopping. The mobile app allows members to scan UPC codes on items as they load them into their cart. When they are done shopping and ready to check out, they can pay directly on their phone and bypass the checkout line.
“It allows you to be your own cashier,” said Sam’s Club spokeswoman Dianna Gee.
The Columbia store also offers Club Pickup, which enables members to order household or business items at SamsClub.com and pick them up in less than 24 hours.
“And this is the first store in Columbia to have a drive through,” Gee said.
To commerate the grand opening, Sam’s Club donated $25,000 to area non-profit organizations, mostly local schools.
“We’re excited to finally open our doors and be a part of the growth in northeast Columbia,” said store manager Josh Shearer. “This is a people business, and we wanted to be true to that” by supporting non-profits with the grants.
In addition to the grant program, the company also uses products from local and regional businesses, Gee said. Local items include South Carolina peaches, Carolina Gumbaya Seafood Gumbo and Palmetto Brewing Co. beer.
The store is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For Sam’s Plus and Sam’s Business members, the store opens at 7 a.m. on Monday through Saturday.