When the Sam’s Club Membership and Hiring Center officially opened at 8 a.m. on Monday near USC Aiken, there was a long line of job seekers waiting outside.

“It went from the front entrance to way back where the trees are,” said Gerald Raymond, who will be the manager of Aiken’s first Sam’s Club, which is under construction on the City’s west side.

By 10:30 a.m., nearly 100 people had visited the center and completed job applications, Raymond estimated.

“We actually had folks coming in with their resumes last week while we were still setting up,” he said.

The center is located at 156 University Parkway in Suites 101-103. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. People also can apply for jobs online at www.SamsClub.com/careers.

“Obviously, we want to get the best candidates that we can possibly find,” Raymond said. “The biggest thing is that we’re looking for a mix of people. We have a variety positions available, from stockers to cashiers to managers.”

Plans call for hiring 175 associates. The Aiken store is scheduled to open in the fall at 220 Jefferson Davis Highway.

Area residents also can sign up for Sam’s Club memberships at the center.

Judy Jones of Gloverville was waiting patiently to use one of the nine computer terminals at the center to file her job application.

“I’ve been out of work for three months and I haven’t been able to get anything, so I’m searching everywhere,” she said. “I’ve been looking from Columbia to Augusta, and it’s hard. There are a lot of people who are out of work.”

Chris Robinson, who recently earned an associate’s degree from Denmark Technical College, also showed up to apply for a Sam’s Club position. He plans to move to Aiken soon.

“It’s great opportunity,” Robinson said. “A lot of doors can open from working at Sam’s Club.”

Antionette Williamson of Aiken was hoping for a brighter future.

“I was at Home Depot, but things didn’t work out,” she said. “Maybe things will work out for me better at Sam’s Club. I think it’s a place where I can start down low and hopefully rise to the top.”

Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young dropped by the center to attend its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re certainly glad to have Sam’s Club in town,” Young said. “We need the jobs, and we have a quality workforce here that is second to none.”

Sam’s Club, a chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs, is a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.