From there, Amazon prepping started to spread through Roundup as fast as a rumor. First, Linda’s neighbor told her another resident, Jill Johnson, had heard about her new gig and wanted to learn the ropes. Linda tried to fend her off, saying she was too busy. But Jill — who’d moved to Roundup from northern Florida after visiting to help her friend herd cattle — was determined. She’d just been laid off from her state job due to budget cuts and needed the work. “Okay, send her in,” Linda told her neighbor, relenting. Jill apprenticed in the shop, and they became fast friends.
Prep centers, automated software, and Amazon’s logistics network let arbitrage globalize. Now someone sitting in Ontario or Manilla or Ljubljana can buy a hundred toasters from a Target warehouse in San Bernardino and send them to a prep center in Roundup and on to Amazon, which might automatically divide the toaster shipment between fulfillment centers in, say, Illinois, Kentucky, and Utah based on projected demand, before shipping the toasters to smaller local warehouses and finally out to customers. Many sellers now have about as much relationship to the goods as commodity traders to do pork bellies, just directing goods from one company’s warehouse to another.
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