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Harry & David restarts winter-season Eugene call center

Harry & David is relaunching its winter-season call center in downtown Eugene, after a two-year absence.

The Medford-based company has begun screening job applicants and plans to hire about 750 workers to take phone orders from November through the winter holidays, said Darren Prescott, vice president of customer care. Wages start at $9 an hour, and employees receive a 30 percent discount on online purchases, he said.

Harry & David has updated the 25,000 square feet it leases at 180 W. Eighth Ave., with fresh carpet and paint. Company officials are setting up computer stations, servers and telecommunications connections, Prescott said.

"For the most part, all of that is just about wrapped up," he said.

Harry & David's seasonal call center in Eugene had been a holiday tradition for more than two decades, when company executives shut it down in 2010 and 2011 and shifted the work to other firms and to the company's year-round call center in Medford.

Prescott announced this spring that the Eugene call center would spring back to life this holiday season because he prefers to keep the work in-house.

Boydston managed the Eugene call center for five seasons before it closed. She is among a leadership team of about 25 former employees who were recruited in August and will be back on the job, Prescott said.

All told, Harry & David will have about 3,300 call center workers this holiday season at centers in Eugene, Hopewell, Ohio, and in Medford, Prescott said.

Hundreds of workers will be reporting for duty at the 450-seat Eugene call center, and virtually all of those seats are expected to be filled during the company's peak week of Dec. 9, Boydston said.