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Building in Omaha's Old Market offers work space for small businesses

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A building at 14th and Jones Streets is now open as Elevator, which offers warehouse and office space for small businesses.

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

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

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

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Shannon and Emiliano Lerda

Signs of the business took over the spare bedroom of their house and eventually spread to the garage and basement. When the business crept into the living room, that was the last straw, Shannon Lerda said.

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

The couple looked for a small warehouse space that would offer a short lease, allowing them to keep growing the business. But all they found were spaces of about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet with leases lasting three to five years.

After talking to friends and investors, the couple realized they weren’t the only ones faced with that problem.

So the Lerdas created Elevator. The business officially opened its doors Oct. 1.

The four-story building features 75 warehouse-like storage spaces, 17 offices, underground parking and more than 7,000 square feet of shared space.

Elevator interior

Some of the work spaces available inside Elevator, a startup at 14th and Jones Streets. The building offers warehouse and office space for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

It’s now home to a dozen businesses that employ nearly 40 employees. Tenants can reserve storage space on a month-to-month basis. It allows them to scale up, down or move out, Lerda said.

The smallest storage space runs $229 a month with the largest space sitting at just shy of $3,000 a month.

The building features a mix of industrial materials and historic brick. The upper floors and a rooftop deck offer views of the Old Market.

The work space was designed for e-commerce entrepreneurs, makers and small businesses that previously operated out of a home.

Elevator helps tackle another problem the Lerdas faced — finding employees.

If a small business needs another set of hands 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 with other hurdles that Shannon Lerda 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 be a struggle, too. Lerda had to be sure someone was home to receive large shipments.

The Lerdas wound down the pet supply 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 fulfilling personally to help other businesses have the opportunities that we did not have,” she said. “We’ve solved not just their space problem, but isolation problems, and shipping and logistics problems.”

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