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Amazon’s Republic fulfillment center abuzz as company tops holiday record

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It’s the (North) polar opposite of ambling into a store and peering at shelves of merchandise as a merchant offers one-on-one service or samples. And it appears to be inflation-proof.

Company officials at Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) reported its best-ever holiday shopping weekend from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday this year.

Andrew Lee, site leader for the 1.3 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Republic, said much of Amazon’s merchandise comes from independent vendors. In this way, he said the warehouse is not entirely removed from those downtown businesses.

“I always give the example of companies in the area that sell, like, candles,” he said. “They can go in there and use the logistic capabilities of Amazon to make sure they can reach a larger audience. Maybe they’ve just been in that town or that county; now they can get all over the world, all over the United States.”

He said a vendor can bring products in by truck, and it can be unloaded and added to the inventory.

“Just because we have the infrastructure – we’ve done it for so many years – it opens up a great opportunity for small, local businesses to now get their product out to the customers,” he said.

In a news release touting Amazon’s biggest holiday weekend since its founding in 1994, the company declared its customers bought more than $1 billion in merchandise from small businesses selling on its platform.

In August, Amazon announced it would impose a holiday peak fulfillment fee, lasting Oct. 15 to Jan. 14, of 35 cents per item sold by third-party sellers, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. The article noted the fee is in addition to an estimated 20% margin – four times the typical margin – paid by the third-party sellers.

The Republic fulfillment center, which opened Aug. 1, 2021, expects to process 2 million orders during this year’s holidays. From January to October of this year, 11.3 million orders were processed through the center, according to Amazon Regional PR Manager Andy DiOrio.

Here are some other notable numbers from the Republic facility:

  • 4.2 million: Number of products stacked on row after row of racks in the warehouse.
  • 70,000: Products processed every day through the holidays.
  • 42,000: Products processed on a nonholiday shopping day.
  • 6,600-plus: Feet of conveyers in the building.
  • 1,600: Jobs created since opening.
  • 190: “Picker machines,” as Amazon calls them – forklift-type vehicles, each weighing over 5 tons and able to lift 3,000 pounds, running in the building.

When asked about hot gifts this year, Lee had to stop and think. A lot of items, gifts and otherwise, roll by on the conveyers.

“Crock-Pots,” he said. “Carpet cleaners. Also, fishing poles and children’s riding toys.”

The Amazon release said holiday bestsellers for the company were Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, Apple AirPods, Hasbro Gaming Connect 4, Burt’s Bees Christmas gifts, and Champion and New Balance apparel.

Lee recently wore an elf suit for a holiday event at the store, and he kept it on when he went home to his young daughter.

Her eyes got wide, Lee said, and she gave him a giant hug.

“She really believes I work at Santa’s workshop,” he said.


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