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Originally published May 3, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Page modified February 2, 2012 at 12:31 PM

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Amazon to open new Sumner warehouse, hire several hundred

The Sumner warehouse, which is already built and expected to be operational this summer, brings Amazon's planned openings to at least 10.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Amazon.com's footprint in the Puget Sound region is about to get bigger.

The Seattle Internet retailer, which is expanding at its new South Lake Union headquarters, said Tuesday it plans to open a distribution center in Sumner.

The 500,000-square-foot warehouse will employ several hundred people full time, plus hundreds of temporary workers during the holiday-shopping season.

Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow cheered Amazon's expansion.

"Not only do people in Sumner and eastern Pierce County need jobs, but they need quality jobs close to home from good employers," Enslow said in a statement. "Amazon fits that bill beautifully."

New hires will be offered hourly wages starting at $12.25, as well as medical benefits and restricted stock units.

Last week, Amazon posted a 33 percent decline in its first-quarter profit to $201 million, citing stepped-up spending on new warehouses, technology upgrades and marketing. Quarterly sales rose 38 percent from a year ago to $9.86 billion.

At the time, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak noted that the company would add nine new warehouses this year on top of the 13 built last year.

The Sumner warehouse, which is already built and expected to be operational this summer, brings Amazon's planned openings to at least 10.

Amazon last month began closing a Texas warehouse after the state hit it with a $269 million bill for four years of uncollected sales taxes. And last week, the company said it would stop construction of a warehouse in South Carolina after state lawmakers rejected a sales-tax exemption it had requested.

Under a 1992 Supreme Court decision, only sellers with a physical presence in a state, such as a store, must charge sales taxes on its behalf.

That's not likely to come into play with the Sumner warehouse, because Amazon collects sales taxes on purchases by Washington residents.

Amazon will continue to operate a smaller distribution center in Bellevue, where it also runs a local grocery-delivery service, AmazonFresh. The Sumner warehouse will not include AmazonFresh.

To apply for hourly-wage jobs online, go to www.amazon.greatjob.net, or call 888-562-5088.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

Flash-sale deals

outfit MyHabit

Amazon.com launched a members-only website Tuesday, becoming the latest online retailer to offer limited-time deals on designer clothing.

The new site, MyHabit.com, promises high-end merchandise at deep discounts daily beginning at 9 a.m.

On Tuesday, for example, MyHabit offered a Doo.Ri women's halter dress for $398, down from $995, and Saurette girl's sundresses for less than $50, rather than the regular $79 and up, giving shoppers until Friday morning to make a purchase.

With MyHabit, Amazon enters one of the fastest-growing segments of the fashion business. Four top "flash-sale" websites — Gilt Groupe, HauteLook, ideeli and RueLaLa — were projected to generate $900 million in 2010, according to research firm eMarketer.

Shoppers must sign up for daily email alerts, and the service is free.

Flash-sale sites thrived during the recession as shoppers grew more and more bargain-driven and designer brands had an excess inventory they were willing to unload online for short bursts of time. The trend has staying power, even post-recession, because "people love a great deal," said Maria Renz, president of the new site.

"They love finding that amazing blouse or pair of shoes and getting it for 60 percent off," she said. "Our intent is to be a matchmaker between our customers and brands, and provide the opportunity for brands to introduce themselves to a new incremental customer base."

Amazon is no newbie to the flash-sale marketplace. Last year, it bought electronics discounter Woot! and BuyVIP, a Spanish website that offers limited-time deals on fashion to more than 6 million members in Europe.

Seattle Times reporter

Amy Martinez

Report: Amazon

dives into tablet PCs

Taiwanese tech publication DigiTimes reported Tuesday that Amazon.com has hired a company to start building tablet PCs, to arrive in the second half of 2011.

It said Taiwan-based Quanta Computer will build up to 800,000 units per month for Amazon. Quanta is also building tablets for RIM and Sony and hoping to build the next "LePad" device for Lenovo.

DigiTimes didn't name its sources and said Quanta declined to comment. It reported, "Amazon internally plans to reduce Kindle's market price to attract consumer demand from the education and consumer market, while (it) will push tablet PC using its advantage in software and content resources to challenge iPad2."

The device will have touch screens made by E-Ink, DigiTimes reported. E-Ink began showing its new color displays in November.

Amazon did not return calls for comment.

Seattle Times technology columnist Brier Dudley

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