With our summer Workamping gig in Lake Tahoe coming to an end we started looking for a winter job somewhat close by. We contacted and applied to a few jobs in California, Oregon, and Nevada. A few places responded to our applications but nothing really interested us. JCPenney Distribution Center contacted us saying they saw our resume on Workamper.com and were looking for Workampers for the upcoming holiday season.
JCPenney is an American-founded retailer with department stores across the country. They offer men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, fashion accessories, beauty products, and home decor including bedding and furniture. Consumers can shop online on the JCPenney website to find exclusive sales and promotions since they focus on affordable pricing. They have been using Workampers for seasonal work in some of their 11 Supply Chain Facilities since around 2018.
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With Covid still around we didn’t want to move too far for our next gig. The JCPenney Distribution Center we were looking at working is located in Reno, Nevada only a bit more than an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe. While not an ideal location with winter coming we hoped and prayed that we wouldn’t get too much snow before we completed our commitment. Luckily the weather held out for the duration of our stay. We only had one day of snow and the roads were clear by early afternoon. Other than being cold the weather stayed nice.
The Reno Distribution Center is over 2 million sq. ft. with over 7 miles of conveyor belts. It is an impressive building although a lot of the work is low technology. They print out tickets that need to be picked, put on conveyors to packing, and then shipped out to their destinations.
We are very open to working wherever we are needed. It seemed that Lisa was moved around daily for the first couple of weeks picking orders in different areas. She picked general clothing items, shoes, towels, toys, jewelry, and high-end clothing. Toys ended up being her favorite area.
I was put in stocking where I would put away over 100 cartons of items a day. They also moved me around to stock in different locations some better than others.
The stocking took a toll on my body, with over 25,000 steps registering on my Fitbit daily and climbing, squatting, and lifting my body was so sore every day. One thing I found frustrating with stocking is that I would have a large item and the scanner would tell me to put it into a certain location only to find the location too small and I could only fit a few of the items in the location before being told to put them in another location. Then a small item would go to a large location. I worked in stocking until they opened T-Class a few days before Thanksgiving.
When they opened T-Class there were days when we weren’t too busy and would get put into different jobs. One day we worked in prep. It turned out to be one of the worst jobs. The items we were prepping to go on the shelves were heavy kitchen wares. Lisa worked prepping knife sets and I prepped dishware sets.
In the afternoon we were tasked with preparing Sonic Toothbrushes, which seemed easy enough. Put the boxed toothbrush in a bubble wrap mailer. But the boxes barely fit into the assigned bags. Each time we had to shove, cram, and force the box into the bubble-wrapped bag. It was a frustrating experience.
On another slow day, we were curious about where all the items we picked and packed were going for shipping. We took a walk to the shipping area where their supervisor stopped us and asked if we were looking for something to do. Sure, we told him. He put us on the conveyor belts where the packages go to the trucks for loading. It was easy work but as we started working the guys who were working there just disappeared leaving us to do their jobs.
Working 5:00am to 3:30pm. Our schedule started out as four 10-hour days per week with three days off. It was a good schedule giving us time to do things we wanted to do. About 2 weeks before Thanksgiving I was asked to work five days per week. Then the day after Thanksgiving we worked 12 straight 10-hour shifts before we got a single day off and then worked seven more 10-hour shifts. The work is hard and days go by fast.
Pay and Benefits
The Pay Schedule for 2020 Workampers was $16 per hour (which included a $1/hr Covid bonus) plus a $100 per week stipend to cover RV Campground costs. Their bonus was in effect until December 26, 2020, when the pay went back to $15 per hour.
Happily, we were done and long gone by then. JCPenney does offer some benefits to its seasonal employees. We received information on the benefits packages offered. Lisa checked into healthcare coverage but was told she could only get dental and vision coverage through JCPenney. I have coverage through Tricare (Military Retirement Coverage) so I didn’t look too much into what they had.
T-Class is an area where they have a lot of toys and shoes that are high-selling items for Christmas. On an average day, we were picking and packing over 4500 items per day. Each of the 10-12 Workampers working in T-Class would be assigned a group of tickets that coincide with the rows they were to pick. We would use big red carts to pick up the items then return to the packing area and pack the items.
If you’re looking for a seasonal Workamping job in and around the holidays JCPenney Distribution Center is a way to earn some good cash in a short amount of time. JCPenney isn’t the only employer hiring Workampers in the Reno area. There is also an Amazon Distribution Center in the area. Reno is a hub area for a number of Distribution Centers. Not all of them hire Workampers but if you’re looking for a warehouse job Reno might be a good place to look.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our experience with JCPenney Distribution Center. If you have any questions about our experience or Workamping in general please feel free to leave a comment below.
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