Exploring the Massive Distribution Center of My Favorite Online Retailer

As a long-time customer of Oriental Trading Company, I was thrilled to learn that their headquarters and main distribution warehouse is located just a short drive from my home in Omaha, Nebraska. Oriental Trading Company has been a go-to source for party supplies, arts and crafts, school supplies, and fun gifts since I was a kid, so I was excited at the opportunity to visit their main facility in the nearby town of La Vista, Nebraska.

The Oriental Trading Company warehouse is located at 11201 Davenport Street in La Vista. It sits just off Interstate 80, providing easy access for the constant flow of inbound inventory and outbound shipments that keep the company running.

My first impression when pulling into the Oriental Trading parking lot was that this place is massive! The main office and warehouse building is over one million square feet of space! Rows of semi-trucks were lined up at the loading docks being packed with Oriental Trading products to be shipped out across the country. It was clear that this distribution center was the heartbeat that pumps Oriental Trading’s wide assortment of products out to their millions of customers.

Since I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, the administrative offices were closed, but the warehouse was buzzing with activity. I was able to walk right in the main entrance and could see workers driving forklifts stocking shelves as far as the eye could see. The warehouse interior looked like it went on forever! It was hard to comprehend the sheer volume of colorful party decorations, craft supplies, and other fun goodies waiting to be unpacked.

My Oriental Trading journey

Like most loyal Oriental Trading customers, my personal history with the company stretches back to childhood. As a kid, I looked forward to browsing the Oriental Trading catalogs that would arrive in the mail, circling all the small toys, craft kits and novelties I hoped to receive as birthday party favors or stocking stuffers.

Later, as a parent and teacher myself, I became a frequent shopper for supplies to decorate classrooms and make parties special. A birthday party or holiday isn’t complete without a package of Oriental Trading supplies! I even shop their catalog for little pick-me-ups just to brighten my day.

That’s why touring Oriental Trading’s main facility in La Vista gave me the giddy feeling of walking into Santa’s workshop at the North Pole! Seeing where all the magic happens allowed me to appreciate the enormous scope of this one-of-a-kind company.

History and growth of Oriental Trading in La Vista

The Oriental Trading Company opened its first facility in La Vista back in 2000. Founder Harry Watanabe had started the business over 70 years ago in 1932 selling Chinese perfumes and other imported novelties. The company had operated a smaller warehouse in Omaha until relocating to the sizable La Vista site to allow for expanded inventory and order fulfillment.

Over 20 years later, the La Vista Oriental Trading warehouse has grown in both size and employment. Even during COVID-19 shutdowns, Oriental Trading continued to expand, adding a third phase to the warehouse in 2020. The company now employs over 2,000 people just at the La Vista headquarters alone. Nationwide, Oriental Trading has over 5,000 employees.

It’s clear that Oriental Trading Company takes pride in its roots here in Nebraska. Photos around the facility highlight the history of Oriental Trading and feature its founder Harry Watanabe travelling the globe collecting exotic merchandise. The company has come a long way from its early days as a small import business while still retaining that spirit of fun and adventure.

Job opportunities abound

With employment totaling in the thousands, Oriental Trading Company is one of the largest employers in the Omaha metro area. The company offers numerous entry-level warehouse positions like pickers, packers, and equipment operators. More specialized roles are available on the corporate side in departments like marketing, finance, HR, and more. Oriental Trading provides competitive pay and benefits in a fun working environment.

For job seekers interested in working at Oriental Trading Company’s La Vista location, open positions are posted on the website. Opportunities range from seasonal warehouse work to specialized positions requiring degrees. The application encourages creativity by allowing job seekers to submit a video resume or portfolio demonstrating their skills.

Working at Oriental Trading would certainly liven up anyone’s day! Employees can dress in costume, participate in themed events and contests, and feel like every day is a party. The company emphasizes the importance of fun and continuing Harry Watanabe’s tradition of spreading joy.

Giving back to the community

Oriental Trading has always emphasized community service and giving back to their neighbors. The large La Vista facility has provided much needed jobs and commerce to the area. Employees are encouraged to volunteer with local non-profits like the Red Cross and United Way.

The company also contributes product and funding to worthy causes in La Vista and the surrounding Omaha community. They regularly donate art supplies, books, activity kits, and other product to schools and children’s organizations. Oriental Trading also sponsors free community events like movie nights, craft fairs, and holiday celebrations.

Going behind the scenes

One of the great things about Oriental Trading having its main facility in La Vista is that it provides opportunities for Nebraska locals to get an inside look. Although the distribution center isn’t open for public shopping, they do offer occasional warehouse tours.

Groups can schedule tours to see the immense operation first-hand and learn about Oriental Trading’s history. Tours take visitors through the 1+ million square feet of warehouse space and offer a peek at the massive inventory. Guides share fun facts and explain how products make their way from exotic ports to the company’s shelves.

I’m hoping to get a chance to take the warehouse tour on my next trip out to La Vista. Maybe I’ll even spot the company founder, 93 year old Harry Watanabe, who still visits the facility regularly and joins in the costume parades! The tour would be a perfect outing for school field trips, youth groups, birthday parties or anyone wanting to see where the Oriental Trading magic happens.

Oriental Trading’s future in La Vista

The Oriental Trading Company has shown continued growth in both sales and facilities over its nine decades in business. If the current La Vista distribution center tells us anything, it’s that Oriental Trading is here to stay. The company remains committed to keeping its operations in Nebraska where founder Harry Watanabe built the business from the ground up.

Future expansion plans for the La Vista warehouse include renovating areas into modernized office spaces and showrooms. Oriental Trading is also focused on increased sustainability efforts, from solar power to reduced packaging waste. They aim to maintain a safe, inclusive work environment as the employee base continues growing.

It’s inspiring to see a local Nebraska company grow into a national brand while retaining its founders’ values. Oriental Trading Company has certainly come a long way from selling imported novelties to becoming the ultimate one-stop shop for party supplies and crafts. Visiting the La Vista warehouse showed me that Oriental Trading remains as committed as ever to spreading fun and joy to their customers everywhere.

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