Retailers adding workers before the holiday season

Steve Tarter

Along with bell ringers, fruit cake and carols, the holidays bring something else: jobs.

That's no small matter in a down economy, even if the positions are part time and limited to the end of the year.

"Holiday hiring looks like it's at the same level as it's always been," said Dawn Shipman, manager of The Shoppes at Grand Prairie.

While the focus is usually on big retail stores at this time of year, smaller stores "typically double the size of their staff over the holidays," she said.

Job seekers can go online at to see what's available, said Shipman. On Tuesday, only one position was posted on The Shoppes Web site: A part-time job at the White House Black Market store.

But that's not the only job available at The Shoppes. "We're hiring, and we have been hiring. We're still looking," said Mike Powell, manager of the Bergner's at The Shoppes of Grand Prairie, one of the center's anchor stores.

"These are seasonal positions that we need for our biggest days," Powell said.

One of those big days comes Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers are lured by early-morning bargains.

Bergner's will open at 4 a.m. on Friday, said Powell.

"We hope to have a big crowd this year. We're ready for the consumer," he said.

At J.C. Penney in Northwoods Mall, manager Rich Hudson also is ready - and looking for more people.

"We've got 25 more people in the store than we normally have, and I'm looking for another 25," he said.

Most of the positions range from 10 to 20 hours a week.

"It depends how close it is to Christmas," said Hudson, adding that he has a few Monday-to-Friday slots available where workers start at 9 a.m.

Like Bergner's, Penney opens early on Friday.

"We're set to open at 4 a.m. but we may open the doors at 3:30 a.m. if we're ready," Hudson said.

A number of area stores - Target, Kmart and UFS Savings Center - reported that they'd already done their holiday hiring and weren't currently seeking any more workers.

"We hired an additional five people this year," said Tom Wiegand, a co-owner at UFS.

"We're just happy that we didn't have to lay anyone off this year," he said, referring to the store's 85 employees.

"It'll be all hands on deck this Friday," said Wiegand, noting that the store will conduct its annual two-day wine-tasting event on Friday and Saturday. "The table is set. We just need the customers."

Some stores line up their holiday crew well in advance.

"We have our people in place before Columbus Day (Oct. 12)," said Brenda Robinson, manager of the Yankee Candle outlet at The Shoppes. "We don't have to hire a lot. We get a lot of returnees who worked here before."

While the normal complement of workers is 10, the Candle staff swells to between 25 and 30 during the holidays, said Robinson, also looking forward to a big day on Friday, when the store opens at 6 a.m.

Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260