Nebraska Crossing Outlet may have more job openings than initially thought

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Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 12:00 am

Photos: Nebraska Crossing's transformation

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The new Nike factory store in Gretna plans to hire 125 part-time and full-time employees. The new Forever 21 outlet is seeking 100 workers and the Gap outlet hopes to have 50 to 60 people on board by opening day.

The list goes on — the Eddie Bauer outlet needs about 30 workers, Banana Republic and Wilson's Leather factory stores each plan to hire up to 50 people. And that's only six of the more than 65 retailers and eateries that will occupy the new Nebraska Crossing Outlet mall, opening Nov. 15.

More than 250 people attended the first Nebraska Crossing Outlets job fair Saturday at Gretna High School. About 20 retailers, including Brooks Brothers, Borsheims, Ralph Lauren, Levi's, Gymboree, Kay Jewelers, Swarovski and Auntie Anne's, set up tables inside the school, chatted with applicants and passed out job applications or conducted on-the-spot interviews.

The event's sponsors described the turnout as “good,” but even they were surprised at the sheer number of jobs that need to be filled. Developer Rod Yates of OTB Destination has said the outlet mall would create about 500 full-time and part-time jobs, but he and his staff, which includes Omaha's OBI Creative Marketing Collective, are revising the number upward.

Granted, some retailers may be hiring more than they required to gear up for the holidays and to cover the retail employee turnover rate, which can range from 22 percent to 67 percent, according to a 2012 study by the Hay Group, a management consultant firm.

A second job fair is scheduled for Oct. 12 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Omaha Burke High School, 12200 Burke St., and OTB and OBI said Monday they are drawing up plans for a third job fair to make sure the mall's tenants have enough employees.

Some retailers, such as the Gap and Nike, were satisfied Saturday with the number of job applications they received, while other retailers said they had hoped to see more candidates Saturday. Others, such as Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, said they planned to hold their own hiring events at local hotels.

The event drew heavily from the Gretna area. However, Jamie Theisen saw information about the event on the news and drove 15 miles from Louisville to Gretna. Thiesen said she applied at several retailers, including Coach, Nike and Forever 21. “I really need a job,” said the 18-year-old.

Other retailers had to turn away applicants because of their company's age policy.

Grant Rohan, 17, a student at Gretna High, stopped to talk to representatives of Brooks Brothers but was told he would have to wait several months before he could apply for a job at the men's clothier. “They only hire if you're 18,” he said.

With an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent in the Omaha area, outlet retailers are facing a tight job market, along with tight set-up deadlines. Many retailers said Saturday they wouldn't be able to move into their new storefronts until about a week before the shopping center opens.

A representative for the new Lane Bryant outlet, which plans to hire about 15 full-time and part-time workers, said the time frame wasn't a concern, as long as the store was fully staffed.

“We can put a store together in three days,” the representative said.

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