Jobs at Cabela’s in high demand

Contractor Jerry Brake saws wooden trim Thursday for the new Cabela’s store at Mesa Mall in Grand Junction. The store expects to open in May.

Don’t feel bad if you applied for but didn’t get hired at Grand Junction’s new Cabela’s store.

You’re not alone.

According to a store spokesman, more than 3,000 people applied for the new store’s 218 open positions.

After online applications topped 3,000, store officials culled a pool of 1,200 people to interview, Cabela’s spokesman John Castillo said.

“This is definitely one of the more popular job fairs that we’ve had,” he said.

Cabela’s sells hunting and fishing equipment and outdoor gear, operating 29 stores across the nation and one in Canada. The new location is expected to open in May at the former Mervyns in Mesa Mall.

Dismal unemployment numbers in Grand Junction undoubtedly spurred applications for the positions, by far the largest single hiring event in the area in some time, Mesa County Workforce Center supervisor Gilbert Lujan said.

Grand Junction’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in December. That’s equal to more than 7,200 Grand Junction residents seeking work, Lujan said, adding January and February’s employment numbers are expected in the next few weeks.

The Workforce Center apprised job seekers of the open positions at Cabela’s, so the numbers of applications the business received was “not surprising,” Lujan said.

“If you look at the ratio, that’s not a good ratio,” he said of the numbers of applications versus the jobs. “In general, people felt that their chances were better because there were more jobs available.”

The number of people applying for jobs is in sharp contrast to a worker shortage just a few years ago, when lower-paying positions were hard to fill.

Cabela’s pays a starting hourly wage of $9, and it offers health care insurance, 401(k) benefits and paid vacation days.

The store’s general manager, Bill Stockstill, was impressed by the number of knowledgeable, qualified applicants, Castillo said. New Cabela’s stores usually see a large turnout of applicants, drawing people who are passionate about the outdoors, Castillo said.

A store opening in Billings, Mont., last year drew similarly large numbers of applicants, he said.

“Cabela’s jobs are desirable positions,” Castillo said. “A lot of people who love the outdoors want to live the Cabela’s lifestyle.”

The number of job openings through the Workforce Center are increasing gradually, Lujan said. December brought a near-record low of 86 job orders (a job order can include more than one position.) In February, the number of job orders increased to 135.

Until the pendulum swings, it’s likely to continue to be an employer’s market.

Randy Emmons, who this week opened his second Randy’s Southside Diner, said he felt overwhelmed after advertising for employees for the new restaurant. He said he received 450 applications in 35 days to fill a dozen positions at his new location, 3210 Interstate 70 Business Loop, unit G.

“It was crazy,” he said. “It was to a point where I wanted to lock myself in my room and say, ‘I’m not here.’ ”


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