BOARDMAN New Sam's Club prepares to open

The company added 50 jobs to staff its expanded store.
BOARDMAN -- A new Sam's Club store, which sparked a neighborhood controversy when it was announced last year, is set to open on South Avenue on Thursday.
A grand opening for the 156,230-square-foot store warehouse store starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, and a business-only sneak preview will be from 7 a.m. to noon Wednesday. The store is adjacent to Lowe's Home Improvement Center.
Mark Prideau, general manager, said the building is about a third larger than Sam's Boardman store, which is south of the new location on South Avenue. The old store will close at the end of the workday Wednesday.
Store managers hired 50 additional workers to staff the larger store, he said, bringing the total work force to about 250 full- and part-time employees.
What's new
New features include a photo lab, an in-store bakery, a pharmacy and cafe/pizza shop. Outside, a gas station opened Dec. 15. The store is designed with the no-frills cement floor and warehouse shelving that is a Sam's Club standard, but skylights have been added for a brighter look.
Some Boardman residents complained about the building plan last spring, arguing that it will have a negative effect on traffic volume, noise levels, water drainage, property values and the environment. Landscaping for the building includes a 60-foot buffer and rows of pine trees to shield homeowners living near the store from the lights and noise.
Shoppers must pay a membership fee to shop at Sam's Club store. Businesses pay $30 a year, with additional cards also $30 apiece; families pay $35 a year.
Service for businesses
The Boardman Sam's Club has been getting 60 percent to 70 percent of its sales from local small businesses, Prideau said. To cater to business clients, the store recently began offering programs which allow a business to e-mail or fax an order in, with store employees picking out the merchandise and packing it up for pickup the next morning.
Prideau, 34, is an East Liverpool native who started his career as a pizza baker at a Sam's Club in Cleveland when he was in college studying for a bachelor's degree in business administration from Kent State University.
After graduation, he entered the company's management training program, and he held a succession of management positions at Sam's stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Indiana before assuming the helm at the Boardman store. He lives in East Liverpool.
Sam's Club calls itself the largest members-only warehouse retailer in the country, with 46 million members. A division of Wal-Mart Stores, Sam's Club has annual sales topping $29 billion.