Biz Beat

Business Beat: Holiday hiring ramping up

Womenâ™s clothier White House Black Market is set to open at the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2014.
Womenâ™s clothier White House Black Market is set to open at the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2014. Brian Clark/

I am planning on ducking under my desk after I type this, because I know it’s bound to get some folks worked up: It’s time to talk about the holidays.

I know, I know, October just got underway and it’s 90 degrees outside. I worked retail for years, and I heard many complaints from customers about our holiday displays going up in September. And then there are those bragging they already have their holiday shopping done for the year. I know some of those people, and I just don’t get it.

But here’s the thing: Shoppers need help, and businesses are hiring right now for the holiday season. Lots of the big retailers, including Kohl’s, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart, have the seasonal “help wanted” sign in the window, either literally or figuratively. As I mentioned in a previous column, FedEx and UPS are bolstering their staffs, too, in an effort to prevent the package backlog that frustrated some shoppers last year.

Being a “Christmas hire,” as we used to call them in the olden days, is a great way to check out a company, get a foot in the door, or just get some extra cash for the holidays.

It’s not limited to the big-box stores, either. I noticed that Keller’s in McHenry Village is hiring for the holidays.

Many places of business go the online route for accepting applications these days, though it never hurts to stop by in person, as well.

One piece of advice: If you’re going to take in applications anywhere, don’t show up in shorts and flip-flops. That would seem to go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people do that. About the only place that might be a good idea is at the Flip Flop Shop at Vintage Faire Mall. But they’d better be pretty spiffy flip-flops.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE BUSINESS BEAT: Speaking of Vintage Faire, the mall is home to a couple of new stores. Women’s clothier White House Black Market is set to open Oct. 30. And another store, called Qrew, is also set to open. Mall marketing manager Annie Amies said the latter is aimed at the younger crowd with hip, contemporary fashions.

Also new is Joppa, which went into the spot formerly occupied by Coldwater Creek. The mall’s website bills Joppa’s merchandise as “affordable, fashionable clothing for women and juniors.”

Temporary retailers such as Hickory Farms and calendar and ornament retailers also are either opening shop or preparing to do so, Amies said.

And the mall itself is gearing up to open its new Santa Claus set in about a month.

The new set, sponsored by HGTV, “is just beautiful,” Amies said. “It’s got really traditional colors but it’s really modern.”

The set features interactive activities to occupy children and parents waiting in line for their turn with Santa. Kris Kringle arrives Nov. 5, with a Breakfast With Santa event set Nov. 8.

• It never occurred to me that fire stations would require a specialized type of furniture. But they do, and Modesto’s Dave Woods has tapped into the market.

Woods, a former school principal, has operated Fire Station Outfitters online for several years. He recently opened a storefront to showcase the recliners and couches he sells.

“I never expected to have a storefront,” Woods said. His first customers were fire departments on the East Coast, but then he picked up California agencies, including the Modesto Fire Department.

And now he is reaching out to a broader market. His chairs are sturdy, with a capacity of 350 pounds, compared with the usual 275 pounds.

“And they’re incredibly comfortable.”

Find Woods’ website at His shop, at 2507 Oakdale Road, Suite 504, Glenwood Plaza, is open by appointment only. Call (888) 380-2345 or (209) 522-4509.