Amazon will open its third warehouse in Ohio, in North Randall, near Cleveland. The 855,000-square-foot facility will handle smaller items such as electronics, toys and books and will offer 2,000 employees "opportunities to engage with Amazon Robotics in a highly technological workplace," the company said. Amazon's other Ohio warehouses are in Etna and Obetz, both near Columbus.
Ironically--or fittingly--the new Amazon site in North Randall is where "the nation's largest shopping mall once stood," said JobsOhio president and chief investment officer John Minor. Opened in 1976, the Randall Park Mall had more than two million square feet of retail space and closed in 2009.
As usual, the company with a market capitalization of some $475 billion received government help. Crain's Cleveland Business reported that in July the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority authorized a $127 million loan package to aid construction of the Amazon warehouse, which is estimated to cost $177 million.
"Words cannot begin to express what Amazon's commitment to the development of its fulfillment center means for the Village of North Randall," said Mayor David Smith. "This is a generational project that not only redefines the future of our community but the future of more than 2,000 Cuyahoga County residents who will be employed at the facility."
One of the major changes Amazon has made in its Amazon Books book and electronics stores was highlighted in a Geekwire article about the Amazon Books that has just opened in Bellevue, Wash.:
"Mariana Garavaglia, director of stores for Amazon, said the aisles are wider than the University Village store [Amazon Books's first store, which opened in November 2015] thanks to customer feedback. The aisles are about 32 inches in some of the narrower spots, versus 26 inches at the original location, based on GeekWire's rough measurements. That means fewer instances of the 'butt brush' of customers running into each other in skinny aisles. Shelves are also set in further to make it easier to pick out books and make the aisles feel more spacious.
" 'We got a lot of feedback from customers saying they were having a hard time, both because the aisles weren't as wide, but also because it was just harder to see down to the bottom shelf,' Garavaglia said."
Today marks Amazon's effective takeover of Whole Foods. Reports are that the new owner will reduce prices on many of the most popular items in the stores, including bananas, avocados and ground beef, and will--as at Amazon Books' outlets--offer extra discounts to Amazon Prime members.