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  #1  
Old 10-03-2002, 05:00 PM
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Kitty Kitty is offline
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Default Coin Laundry History?

How many operaters know the history of the coin laundry industry? Anyone know where Laundromat got its name and spelling from? Anyone like to chat about their views on where the laundromat industry is heading? If you gurus could humor me???? I need the info!
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Old 10-03-2002, 05:05 PM
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If memory servers me correct it was a trademark by one company for a public laundry. Over time I think they lost the trademark due to not protecting it and letting it become a commodity much like bandaide or klenex.

Where is the industry headed? Good question. Personally I think it will be a dying industry - not that I want this to be true. But most low income housing these days has washers and dryers. Also washers and dryers have gotten so cheap and places like Sears now sell them with no interest and no payment for a year - so anyone with no cash can buy one.
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Old 10-03-2002, 05:14 PM
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Can you dig a little deeper? Remember I am back in school? I need 8 pages of research on the laundry industry, past present and future.............



PS, could you email me a life?
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Old 10-03-2002, 05:14 PM
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AND LOOK *
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Old 10-03-2002, 05:16 PM
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I remember reading the coin laundry was derived from the "ticket" laundry. Not sure how it worked, guess you bt a ticket and put it next to the machine you were using.

I see the business as a mature industry, it does not seem like it can grow very much.
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Old 10-04-2002, 12:05 AM
Howard
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Default History

I actually researched this on the net a few years ago.

"Laundromat" was a play on "Automat". "Automat" was a restaurant (Horn and Hardett) that dispensed sandwiches, pies, etc. through windows that were opened by inserting coins (pretty much like today's vending machines). This was around 1945 or so and it wasn't really automated. It was just a gimmick (they had people replacing the food from the back all the time).

A guy in either New York or Baltimore (no one was certain where it got started) named his coin-op washing machine business "Laundromat". According to one report, his business was on Saratoga Street in Baltimore, Maryland; two or three stores away from the H & H Automat.

I have heard that the name "Laundromat" was copyrighted and then lost by generic use too, but have never found any authoritive reference.

By the way, in the 1950's, car makers caught on and started calling everything automatic or Mercomatic, and so on. This was still the era of stick shifts.

Maybe you can fill up your essay with relatively easy to research "automatic" derivatives.
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Old 10-04-2002, 10:41 AM
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May be we can start calling it Laundromatic once we put Card System in our Laundromat.
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Old 10-04-2002, 11:36 AM
Howard
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I would think the trends would be toward "Microwash" , "MacroMat", and "Solid State Spin".
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Old 10-04-2002, 06:44 PM
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Default Trivia for Kitty

J.F. Cantrell opened the first "washateria" on April 18, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. It had only 4 machines.

However, Bendix Appliances invented the automatic washing machine in 1937. (So what were those 4 machines -- wringer washers?)

Early laundries were open specific hours, and since they did not necessarily feature coin-operated machines, there was always an attendant on duty. Some even required that you make and appointment!

The word "Laundromat" was registered as a trademark by Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of White Consolidated Industries on Oct. 1, 1947. Westinghouse listed the word as first being used in commerce on Oct. 26, 1940, and renewed the trademark in 1988. (So if you have the word "Laundromat" in your signage, BEWARE!!!!!!!!)

The first unattended, 24-hour self-service laundry in the U.S. was opened by Nelson Pruett in 1949 on North Loop in Austin, Texas approximately where the present day "Room Service" is located (as of April 18, 1997).

According to the March 1950 issue of "Nation's Business", there were an estimated 4,000 self-serve laundries nation wide at that time.

Kitty -- I used Metacrawler as the search engine for the above. Maybe you could find more.....

Last edited by anonymous; 10-04-2002 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 10-04-2002, 11:17 PM
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Thanks this will be a great start!!! Any others with trivia?

Now I will need a middle and an end. I bet I have enough BS in me to write about the present laundry industry. BUT, I think I will have problems about where the laundry industry is going. I'd love some thoughts....
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  #11  
Old 10-05-2002, 08:45 PM
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Default Back To The Future

Kitty --

I was raised in this business and have realized that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is such a fractured industry. The reasons for getting into the biz are so varied. Some want multiple small unattended laundries that require minimum amounts of owner supervision. Others (like me) are more interested in one larger store -- a place to go every day that might require employees and a large amount of supervision. Some owners are "retired". Others (like me) have an ongoing passion for the biz and want to see how far they can push the envelope.... even if it means going against the conventional wisdom.

The newest thing I've seen is the large chains like Spin Cycle. From articles I've read in the Journal, they talk a good game but I'm unconvinced that they can support a large corporate hierarchy over the long haul, no matter how many "economies of scale" they think they are capturing. The laundry biz is unique among other retail businesses. Generally speaking, we have rather slim operating margins, and as rents sky-rocket in many areas, that skinny margin is going on a severe diet. I have seen so many laundries fold when the first rent increase went into effect. Similarly, two of the laundries in my area closed forever when they lost their leases and could not afford to open elsewhere.

Laundry mitigation fees, designed to slow down growth and punish high water users, are starting to have an impact in both large and small communities. One of our WA State CLA members lost their lease, found a new site, were ready to move in, and the city told them they would have to pay mitigation fees of $1,000 per washer even though they had already paid the fees at the old site. They argued that they were moving less than 4 blocks away -- no go with the city. They ended up selling off their equipment because they couldn't afford to pay the fees twice in less than 5 years. Especially not on top of preparing the new site for the laundry. What a shame.

I occasionally post a sign in the store reminding people that my laundry SAVES our community over 2 1/2 million gallons of water per year due to large capacity, water efficient washers. Part of my "Wash Smart" yearly promo. Less soap, bleach, etc., going into the city water filtration system, too. I personally believe that home washers and dryers should be outlawed as enormous water and energy hogs. But just try and make that political kite fly.... well, a girl can dream, can't she?
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Old 10-05-2002, 08:53 PM
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Default KNOCKOUT

Bubbles that's a TKO STORY


KNOCKOUT that was good. Bravo well done.
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  #13  
Old 10-06-2002, 08:31 AM
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There is such a variety of stores that it will be interesting to research the industry. Here in our area, there are no impact fees, and I cannot imagine how long it would take to be profitable if we did. Impact fees are just a way for cities to pay for their water systems!!!

Laundries constantly are in need of reinvesting in equipment. We keep the equipment as long as we possibly can as it is so expensive to replace. I have seen so many stores who simply rape the business for what they can and never reinvest, others I have seen purchase big, uptdated, expensive stores in the wrong location, in the wrong market. It doesn't seem to be a business for everyone, but more and more people are looking into the biz, and "investing" into one, or more store.

Daves parents profited so much more when they vended at so much less than today. The profit twenty years ago was incedible, competition was limited and it was fairly easy to control the market. Today, the utility rates, equipment rates, payroll, taxes etc, limits the profitablity of this business. I think the only way to continue to remain profitable is to stay ahead of the game and work at it.
Thanks!
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  #14  
Old 10-06-2002, 09:41 AM
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Bee smart Bob sell a little book about laundry history,cost $2.
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:29 PM
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Default Standing out in a Mature Industry (please pardon the length)

Yes -- this is a mature industry. So to do REALLY well you need to be different. Small incremental changes, even a little experimentation can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line. And when it comes to the customers, it really pays to keep your word.

PERSONAL CASE IN POINT:

I am the 3rd owner of my laundry. The original owner built the biz 4 blocks off the main drag in an older, medium population, residential section of town in 1969. Regional Coin-op Beautiful Contest winner in 1970. Good customer base, and no competion within 4 miles (he later added another laundry 3/4 miles away.... it's still there). Over time he replaced only what he absolutely needed to replace -- oftentimes with used equipment. Sold the original store (to an idiot) in 1987 when gross was $100k per year with a 20% profit margin, so his take home pay was $20k per year from this location. I know because I managed the store for the original owner.

The new idiot owner never put a dime into the place and ran the poor store into the ground. It was a hang-out for kids, drug-dealers and gang members. When original owner reposessed (six years later), the store was grossing less than $80k per year, the idiot couldn't pay all of his utility bills and still eat, and there were 27 broken machines.

Enter yours truely. I took over the original business loan after the first owner fixed the machines and paid the outstanding utility bills. I couldn't afford advertising, but word got around that the "old manager" was back at the helm. I personally ejected the kids, drug-dealers and gang members. I told everyone who would listen that my goal was to replace a little equipment every year and to eventually offer the cleanest, state-of-the-art laundry this entire COUNTRY had ever seen. That was 8 years ago. All equipment has been replaced as the laundry could afford it. This will be the 3rd year that I gross over $300k with a 25% profit margin (that's after debt sevicing, folks, and I'm only open 6 days per week), so that's $75k take home pay. Even after adjusting for inflation, I'm doing MUCH better than the original owner, and I can ask top dollar should I wish to sell. But why would I??? I still have some finishing touches to put on my little goldmine (replace the 33 year old flooring, bulkheads, seating), and then I'm going to buy the building as soon as my latest equipment loan is paid off.

I have the oldest laundry in town, the most expensive (my prices would make Donald Trump weak in the knees), and I have a customer base that others would KILL for. I regularly bring in folks from a 10 mile radius -- some drive over 30 miles to get here, passing many laundries on the way. I have received referrals as far away as Yellowstone Nat'l Park and Yosemite from travelers!!!!!!!!!!

And do you know what the customers are constantly telling me? "Gee, Ann, it's so nice you've done all this for us. You said you'd do it, and you really did". And they NEVER mention the prices.

Amen.
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