A building in Omaha’s Old Market provides work space for small businesses

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A building in the Old Market is now open as a space for entrepreneurs and businesses to work, store items and fulfill orders.

The startup, Elevator, is located at 14th and Jones Streets in the Old Market.

The concept stems from the struggle founders Shannon and Emiliano Lerda faced when running a pet supply business from home.






Shannon and Emiliano Lerda


KIMBERLY BAILEY


The signs of the company invaded the guest bedroom of their home and eventually spread to the garage and basement. When the company snuck into the living room, it was the final straw, Shannon Lerda said.

“We were soon breaking the seams out of our house, trying to ship dog treats and chew toys,” she said. “Doing this at home is a great way to start, but it’s not scalable.”

The couple were looking for a small warehouse that would offer a short-term lease, allowing them to continue to grow the business. But all they found were spaces of around 3,000 to 5,000 square feet with leases lasting three to five years.

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After talking with friends and investors, the couple realized they weren’t the only ones facing this problem.

So the Lerda created Elevator. The company officially opened on October 1.

The four-story building includes 75 warehouse-type storage spaces, 17 offices, underground parking and over 7,000 square feet of shared space.







Interior of the elevator

Some of the workspaces available inside Elevator, a startup located at 14th and Jones streets. The building offers warehouses and offices for small businesses and entrepreneurs.


JOSH PETERSON


It now houses a dozen companies that employ nearly 40 people. Tenants can reserve storage space on a monthly basis. This allows them to scale up, scale down or relocate, Lerda said.

The smallest storage space costs $229 per month, with the largest space coming in at just under $3,000 per month.

The building features a mix of industrial materials and historic brickwork. Upper floors and a roof terrace offer views of the Old Market.

The workspace was designed for entrepreneurs, manufacturers and small e-commerce businesses that previously operated from home.

The elevator helps solve another problem the Lerdas face: finding employees.

If a small business needs other labor but can’t find a worker or can’t afford a full-time employee, they can book on-demand labor through Elevator.

Elevator also helps overcome other obstacles that Shannon Lerda has faced. She said she often felt isolated and without a community.

Sometimes, she said, she could go a week at a time without seeing another adult besides her husband.

Shipping and logistics could also be difficult. Lerda had to make sure someone was home to receive large shipments.

The Lerdas shut down the pet supplies business, shifting gears to focus solely on Elevator. They hope to expand the business and open locations in other cities, Lerda said.

“It’s much more personally rewarding to help other companies have the opportunities that we haven’t had,” she said. “We solved not only their space problem, but also the isolation problems, as well as the shipping and logistics problems.”

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