Entrepreneurs bringing new life to old business buildings on historic North 24th Street | State6 min read
OMAHA — A newly renovated building at 24th and Lake streets was the right space in the right place at the right time for entrepreneurs Theardis “Teddy” Young and CharDale Barnes to keep growing their own business while helping other small businesses and North Omaha grow, too.
Young and Barnes recently moved the main office of their marketing, branding and web services firm, Stable Gray, into a retail storefront space at 2520 N. 24th St. It’s part of Fabric, an urban development of five commercial spaces and three apartments on the west side of 24th Street just north of Lake.
Stable Gray’s move brings another local, Black-owned, for-profit business to the historic North 24th Street business district, which is undergoing a revitalization.
“It’s exciting to be a part of that,” Young said amid a hubbub of happy conversation among about 50 people during Stable Gray’s opening festivities last week. “Just with the energy that’s happening down here, and the synergy. There’s so many organizations and businesses that are working hard to get 24th Street back to where it used to be. It’s happening. We’re just a part of that.”
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Young, 39, and Barnes, 38, were born and raised in North Omaha. Young graduated from Benson High School, and Barnes from North High. They initially met at a church where they were working on different aspects of production. Young was freelancing in graphic design and marketing at the time. Barnes had a background in sound engineering, photo and video but was getting ready to go to Omaha Code School.
After Barnes graduated from coding classes, they launched their business in 2015. They started with a few basic media services, aiming to help businesses build strong brands at affordable prices. In their first seven years, they’ve expanded to offer multiple services including brand photography, custom websites, graphic design and corporate video production.
The North 24th Street space will be their headquarters. Barnes hopes to grow the business from its current four employees, counting him and Young, to a workforce of eight to 10 people making six figures. They’re keeping their previous space, at 3223 N. 45th St., as a dedicated photo and video studio and for rentals.
Stable Gray has done work for a variety of businesses and organizations, including Union Pacific Railroad, 75 North, Charles Drew Health Center, Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering, First State Bank, Scooter’s Coffee, the Omaha Star, Two Girls Cleaning and Jadomte’ Mobile Nail Bar.
“Our business is helping businesses build the brand of their dreams,” Young said.
That includes specialties in helping organizations reach diverse audiences, and in helping small businesses grow. That includes Black-owned and other minority businesses, which is part of what made the North 24th Street location attractive.
“We wanted to have a business in North Omaha,” Young said. “This is an essential service that’s needed for businesses to grow. To have that right here, it’s about access.”
But minority-owned businesses typically have less access to branding and marketing services, he said.
“A lot of minority businesses have to bootstrap, and if you’re bootstrapping, you don’t usually have enough margin to market,” Young said. “So we do make it affordable as well.”
Stable Gray’s new neighbors in the Fabric development include a longtime neighborhood stalwart, Styles of Evolution. Owned by founders Don and Yvonne McPherson for 16 years, the clothing store moved temporarily from its corner spot at 2522 N. 24th Street, and will move back when renovations are complete. The Fabric Lab, an urban design and community hub space, is at 2514 N. 24th St. North End Teleservices has another storefront in the complex and has done some pop-ups there.
The Fabric development connects at 24th and Ohio Streets to one end of the North Omaha Trail, a bike and pedestrian route that’s under construction. Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church is to the north. To the south, North Omaha Music & Arts will fill the former event and exhibit space home of Love’s Jazz and Art Center.
Across 24th Street to the east, North End Teleservices plans a mixed-use development with its new corporate headquarters plus housing, food service and day care. The Carver Legacy Center recently opened around the corner to the west. The Union for Contemporary Art, southeast of 24th and Lake, is renovating another old building into the Shirley Tyree Theater. As Young and Barnes cut the ribbon for their business last week, laborers were working on a construction fence for the theater.
“It’s an exciting time,” Young said.
Manne Cook, a former city planner who’s leading the development of Fabric and the North Omaha Trail, among other efforts, said there’s a lot of potential and opportunity in the area, and a lot of positive growth will emerge over the next year or so. There’s discussion, he said, about whether that stretch of North 24th Street is redeveloping as a business district, a cultural district, an innovation district or a historic district.
“In my opinion, it’s all of those things,” Cook said.
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