ROCKINGHAM — Hundreds of people braved Thursday afternoon’s heat to stand in line for a job with Rue 21.
Forty-five minutes after the job fair began at noon, the temperature was 91 degrees — but felt like 98 — as those waiting to hear their names called tried to fan themselves. Several were standing under umbrellas.
Sweat rolled down the face of Corey Dawkins, who waited more than 30 minutes in the parking lot behind the future Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Figured I’d give it a try, since I have experience in retail,” he said.
Dawkins has been out of work for three months. He said he has previously worked at Foot Locker, Hibbett Sports and Griffin Chrysler.
“Hopefully my experience will help me out…I’m a people person,” he said. “Hopefully the wait will be worth it.”
Megan Martin, who was standing on the other side of the parking lot, said she had been anticipating the job fair since her mother sent her a print out about it.
She has been unemployed for about seven months, having quit her last job after getting sick.
Martin was out in the sun for almost an hour before her name was called.
Carrie Gaddy, district manager for Rue 21, said she estimated close to 500 people had come through before she left at 5:30.
“It was crazy…we didn’t expect it at all,” she said about the turnout. “It far exceeded our expectations.”
Gaddy said about 150 people had applied online for the 40 jobs — 20 of which will be core staff.
The other 20 will be temporary workers to help open the store, however, they will have the opportunity to transition to core, she said.
All management positions have been filled, but Gaddy said they are still looking for sales and stock associates.
“We had a pretty good pool to pick from,” she said, adding that there were a variety of applicants with different backgrounds.
Most workers will start at minimum wage, but the pay could go up based on experience, according to Gaddy.
The store’s grand opening will be at 10 a.m., July 14, where the first 100 customers will receive Rue 21 bags stuffed with coupons that can be used on purchases that day.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.