August 1, 2007 in Business

Job hunters draw a bead on Cabela’s

By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web

www.cabelas.com

Cabela’s, a destination sporting goods store that’s being built in Post Falls, is in the midst of hiring 250 people for jobs that the company says provide competitive wages and benefits including a matching 401(k) plan.

“I thought the package was really exceptional, especially for our area,” said Pam Houser, president and CEO of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Between the benefits and the store’s fantasyland atmosphere, which will include a two-story mountain range, huge aquarium and dioramas of animals in their natural settings, North Idaho business and employment leaders say Cabela’s may lure workers away from other retailers.

About 400 people have applied for positions, said Ronald Brekhus, general manager of the store. Managers plan to interview applicants through next week.

Jobs start at $9 an hour, and Cabela’s has openings in maintenance, customer service, cashiering, warehouse operations, shipping and receiving, and sales, he said.

Thirty to 40 percent of the positions are considered full-time, and include medical, dental and vision insurance, Brekhus explained. Cabela’s 401K plan provides an equal match for contributions of up to 6 percent of the employee’s salary after one year of employment, he said. Workers also receive paid vacation and sick leave and part-time employees are eligible for limited benefits.

Cabela’s accepts online applications at www.cabelas.com, but people who need assistance filing online can visit Coeur d’Alene’s Department of Labor office at 1221 W. Ironwood Drive.

Cabela’s operates 19 stores nationwide that attract millions of tourists annually. But the Sidney, Neb.-based company also has a massive audience of catalog shoppers and had $1.8 billion in sales last year. The company is opening seven stores this year, according to Cabela’s Web site.

With the unemployment rate for June averaging 2.8 percent in Kootenai County, the arrival of Cabela’s may put a squeeze on the employment situation for other retailers.

“It’s a very tight market. There are help-wanted signs on every other business when you go down the street,” said Houser of the chamber.

Vicki Isakson, assistant manager of the Coeur d’Alene Department of Labor office, said the part-time jobs could attract people who aren’t already working, but the overall competition for employees could be a catalyst for wage increases in the retail sector. Retailers typically don’t offer benefits, she said, so Cabela’s has added clout.

“It will likely have an overall effect on the wages, to what extent I’m not sure,” Isakson said.

Brekhus, who transferred from Omaha, Neb., to manage the Post Falls store, expects to have a full staff hired by October. The store opening is planned for November.

Applicants don’t necessarily need a lot of retail experience to fit the landscape, Brekhus said. “We look for retail experience, but probably more than that we look for people who have a passion for the outdoors.”


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