NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 1-26-05, By MIKE SAKAL, Morning Journal Writer
[Jeremy Rak graduated from Avon High School in 1990]
``LORAIN -- A distributor of Chinese-made dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and scooters in Avon has purchased the former U.S. Post Office in downtown Lorain and will be moving its business there.
Jeremy Rak, president of Rakatak Scooters, an e-commerce and import company that also deals in home decor items, said he purchased the building at Broadway and Ninth Street from Bob Campana for $510,000 after about a year of discussions.
The deal for the 38,000-square-foot building on the National Register of Historic Places closed yesterday, he said, and Rakatak will open to the public in late summer of this year ...
Rakatak distributes and ships to bike shops and independent dealers its own brand of scooters, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, all manufactured in China, Rak said.
The company will vacate its location in the Lear Industrial Parkway in Avon this month, he said, and will be bringing 10 jobs to Lorain. Rak said he plans to add 20 jobs in sales, customer service, shipping and accounting over the next two years, with the jobs paying slightly above minimum wage to $9 an hour.
The former post office will be the main office and distribution center for Rakatak, he said.
''The building is perfect,'' said Rak, citing its condition and its loading docks. ''I would say it's one of the most beautiful buildings in Lorain County. We're expanding and we need the space.''
Rak said it was becoming increasingly difficult to operate the seven-year-old business out of the 4,000-square-foot facility it currently is in, causing the company to lease additional warehouses for its merchandise.
Rak said his scooters, dirt bikes and ATVs are sold in nearly every state, and said he would like to open other Rakatak distribution centers in other countries.
Rak also operates a real estate investment company, and said he had researched more than 100 available commercial buildings in Lorain County for the last 18 months before deciding on the former post office.
Rak, who holds a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Toledo, said he started selling items on eBay out of his parents' garage in Avon several years ago, and the business took off from there.
Campana, who purchased the former post office building in September 2003, said he was pleased with having a new owner for the historic building.
''When we bought the building, we first wanted to clean it up, and then find a tenant for it who would brings jobs into Lorain's downtown area,'' Campana said. ''We're glad that we were able to do that, and that Jeremy Rak chose to purchase the building.'' ...
The former post office was built in 1914, according to records at the Black River Historical Society in Lorain''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 1-16-07, by Molly Kavanaugh, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Internet gives Lorain's OLD POST OFFICE new life
Rakatak is putting its stamp on Lorain's old post office.
The company, which sells electric scooters, steam showers and saunas over the Internet, has inundated the Broadway Avenue building with boxes and displays of the bulky merchandise.
"It is a beautiful, solid building with close to 40,000 square feet," said Jeremy Rak, who bought the 1914 sandstone building two years ago for $510,000.
This spring , he will expand the business and open a storefront to builders and consumers. Shoppers who used to rent a post office box will still find their names taped above their box.
"It's really a diamond in the rough," Rak said, standing on the second floor looking out on the Black River ...
For Rak, who started his business 10 years ago in his parents' Avon garage, buying the building was a "no-brainer." The price was right, it has plenty of storage space, and he can walk to work (from his townhouse just across the river) with his wife, Rhoda, director of operations, and their playful boxer bulldog, Maggie Moo. The couple spent months refinishing the dark wooden floors and the postmaster's paneled office, where Rhoda works.
The lobby, with its marble columns, is crowded with electric scooters, but the plan is to rent the space to someone who would appreciate the historical building and not mind working around a wall of post office boxes.
The couple is also redoing the second floor, which once housed military recruiters and other government workers, and leasing the office space.
The vaults are intact but are now used for cleaning supplies and storage. The one-way windows and peep holes are fun to show off but aren't really needed to monitor Rakatak employees, who would need a dolly or more to cart off merchandise.
Not so when postal employees worked there, according to the Lorain Times-Herald: "There isn't a corner nor a crevice where a postal worker or carrier, intent on filching a registered letter or package, might hide secure from the searching eye of a postal inspector, haunting one of those masked passages. Even the swing room with its 20 armchairs for leisure moments is not beyond the reach of that net," a reporter wrote in a front-page story about the grand opening of the $150,000 post office [in 1914].
A few postal workers have stopped by to see what Rak has done to the space. He expects a lot more visitors in the coming months because he plans to deliver a first-class store.
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