In Memory: Ojai City Treasurer and Well-Known Community Leader Alan Rains Passes Away at Age 90
It is with great sadness that the City of Ojai announces the passing of the City Treasurer and Ojai icon, Alan Rains. Mr. Rains passed peacefully on December 23, 2021. Mr. Rains was a well-known civic leader, businessman, community leader, and long-time Ojai resident, and operated the “Rains Department Store” an Ojai fixture in Downtown Ojai, which opened as a hardware store in Ojai over 100 years ago. Mr. Rains was recently honored and presented the City of Ojai’s Historic Preservation Lifetime Achievement Award at the December 14, 2021 City Council meeting. “Mr. Rains was a role model in our community and was loved by all,” City Manager James Vega said, “Alan was a true icon in Ojai, and he will be missed.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award provided this additional background on Mr. Rains and his connection to Ojai:
In 1874, a small hardware store was built to serve the local population. Over the years the store changed hands and in 1914 Glenn Hickey, grandfather of current owner, Alan, purchased the business. At that time, the store stocked all the necessary essentials of the day, including horseshoes and stove pipes. “It was a wonderful old store with wooden sidewalks out front,” recalls Rains, sitting in his spartan store office. A sign above the door in Alan’s office bears the slogan “Make Courtesy a Way of Life”. He credits that sentiment, along with a sense of community, for the success of the Rains business through the generations.
In 1917, he said, a fire raged through the Ojai Valley. His grandfather put a note on the store urging people to take what they needed to put out the flames. “He never lost a dime,” Rains says. “They all settled up.” Alan Rains, an only child, was born in Oxnard. His family lived in Ventura but the night his mother gave birth, she was turned away from Foster Community Hospital, located where Community Memorial Hospital now sits, for lack of money. The family then drove to St. John’s in Oxnard–not the current St. John’s– which let them pay in installments. He moved to Ojai when he was 10. His father later took over the business and Rains went off to University of the Pacific in Stockton to study music, specifically the trombone. “I was planning on being a professional musician, but once I got to college and saw all the talented people there, I had doubts,” he said. A cousin urged him to go back home and work in the family business, and he hasn’t stopped since. Glenn Hickey eventually named his son-in-law, Lynn Rains, father of Alan, as partner and manager. The store broadened its inventory to become a general merchandise store. Then, in 1969, Alan changed the name from Hickey Bros. to Rains and began an expansion process. After the acquisition of several adjoining buildings and four major remodels, the result is what we see today, one 22,000 square foot store, in the heart of Ojai.
Alan Rains has successfully owned and managed Rains Department Store for over 50 years through all economic upturns and downturns without losing the character and quality that anchor the largest business in the Arcade. Rains Department Store has a character that is unique to the history and values of Ojai and has provided a consistency to the Arcade that has acted as a foundation for the historic core of the Arcade. Main Streets and Downtown business districts across the country have consistently lost their unique character due to anchor businesses that change ownership and appearance. Alan Rains has played a huge part in keeping the character of our historic downtown intact for the past 50 years with his stewardship of Rains Department Store.
The City of Ojai thanks Alan and the Rains family for their commitment and service to the City.