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Dave Olson, Published March 21 2014

PHOTO GALLERY: First look at Moorhead's new Sam's Club

Moorhead -- The new Moorhead Sam’s Club opens April 3, and no one is more primed for it than store manager Leah Roiko.

“We’re looking to bring 180 jobs to this community. I think that has a great economic impact on the population here,” said Roiko, a Twin Cities native who has been with Sam’s Club for about eight years.

Roiko said the 180 jobs will be a mix of part-time and full-time positions.

“I can see that (number) growing as we grow,” Roiko said.

“I think 180 is a conservative starting point. I’m excited to see the volume we do and take it from there,” she added.

Unlike Wal-Mart, its sister brand, Sam’s Club is a membership warehouse, and you need a membership card to shop there.

An exception will be the retail pharmacy at the Moorhead Sam’s Club, which will be open to all shoppers.

“People can walk in and get their scripts. Huge savings on that pharmacy,” Roiko said, noting that the pharmacy is one difference between the Moorhead Sam’s Club and the existing Fargo store, which has long operated without a pharmacy due to North Dakota regulations.

From now through opening day, April 3, Roiko said customers can take advantage of pre-grand opening membership offers at the Moorhead store.

Those who sign up for a $100 “Plus” membership get a $40 gift card.

Sign up for a $45 membership and you’ll get a $20 gift card.

One benefit of the “Plus” membership is early shopping privileges between 7 and 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday, a benefit that also applies to business members.

“We operate as a supplier for small businesses – your convenience stores, your restaurants,” Roiko said, adding that Sam’s Club offers a service to all of its members that will allow them to submit a list of items online they would like to purchase.

Sam’s Club employees collect the items for pick-up the following day.

“If you don’t want to spend the time going around picking everything out yourself, we’ll do that for you,” Roiko said.

“Even an average grocery shopper, submit it online and we’ll have it ready for you the next day,” she said.

Roiko said the 136,000-square-foot Moorhead store is about average size for a Sam’s Club.

The store’s liquor store will have a separate entrance, a requirement of state law.

During the store’s opening days, there will be special prices on big-screen TVs, but Roiko declined to reveal specific prices.

Other items that will greet shoppers include Nike Air Jordan sneakers and clay pigeon throwers.

“We haven’t had that here before,” Roiko said of the pigeon throwers, adding that “camping, hunting and fishing is a big deal in this area.”

Among those recently helping prep the store for opening was Harrison Smith, whose job title is team leader for the store’s center section.

Smith, who is originally from Rapid City, S.D., has been with Sam’s Club for about three years, and he said he hopes to be with the company for many years to come.

“It gives you many opportunities to grow and change. I want to be able to run my own club, one day,” Smith said.

Roiko said when doors open April 3, she expects the grocery section to be among departments seeing a lot of traffic.

“Produce is a really great volume driver for us because there’s not one segment of a community that doesn’t eat produce. That’s a staple thing,” Roiko said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555