Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Fernley: Outpost of One of the Evil Empires

Promoted from a comment in an unrelated post by msconduct:

...[Seeing] your Fernley location reminds me. I'm currenttly reading The Everything Store, about the history of Amazon.com, and to my surprise it mentioned they had a fulfilment centre in Fernley. I'd always imagined Fernley as quite small, so I had no idea it had enough population to staff one of those things. It seems to have had quite an interesting history - a disgruntled employee attempted to set fire to it in 2010 for example, and it's often had visits from the Big Man Jeff Bezos. Is it still there, or are they working people to death for minimum wage somewhere else now?
Fernley is a city of about 20,000 people, and indeed, there is an Amazon fulfillment center there. It's apparently named RNO1 in the Amazon system, which presumably means people think it's in Reno, 30 miles west and in a different county. I see the building quite regularly as it's across the street from Lowe's, where we shop regularly when we don't have the time to go to Big R in Fallon for hardware and home improvement needs.

I would guess that Amazon is probably the city's (and probably Lyon County's) largest employer, and it gets even bigger around this time of year as they start to ramp up for the holiday season. Hundreds of people flock to Fernley each year to work at Amazon. Fernley has a bunch of RV parks that as far as can I see make their entire annual "nut" from the Amazon Surge. There was even a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago (the December after we bought the house, as I recall) about the influx of seasonal workers and how Amazon has arrangements with the RV parks to help them find spots for their RVs. Indeed, if we'd bought Fernley House later than we did, there would not have been room in any of the parks for us to spend a month with the travel trailer parked there while we got the house fixed up for minimal occupancy (i.e. wiring/plumbing the RV space so the trailer could be there "hot" and we could live out of the lifeboat during ongoing reconstruction, which to some extent we're still doing).

Fernley has positioned itself as an industrial city, with a largish industrial park (which is why there's so much local rail traffic: both BNSF and UP switch the businesses here five days a week). Sherwin-Williams has a large paint plant here, which is why we buy S-W brand paint: the type of paint we've been buying is made in Fernley, distributed from a warehouse in Sparks, and we buy it from a Reno retail store because there's no S-W dealership in Fernley.

Yes, I know the pictures I post seem to make it look like we're all alone in the desert, but that's mainly because the lots on both sides of our house are vacant and the house is in the "old downtown," whereas most of the housing and businesses are in other parts of the city. Fernley is more than a couple of tumbleweeds and a truck stop, which is how it might appear if you're passing through on I-80. You can have a look for yourself on Google Maps. Amazon's distribution center is one of the white squares with a large black square (its huge parking lot) below and to the right of the freeway interchange off I-80 near the center top of the view to which I've linked, assuming the link worked right.
Tags: fernley
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