There's Lots to Earn in the Laundromat Business

One canny couple cashed in on the quest for clothes cleanliness when they entered the laundromat business.

| March/April 1983

Two years ago, my family and I yanked up our urban roots and made a long-dreamed-of move to the Ozarks. And to "fertilize" our transplant, we "hoed in" a good measure of blind faith, hoping—seemingly against all reason—that an interesting means of earning a living would offer itself in our new, fairly rural environment.

Alas, it wasn't long before our eyes were opened enough to confront a few "weedy" realities. Number one, the kind of businesses that fascinated us were generally enduring a mighty precarious existence in today's economy. Second, we considered ourselves too inept to join the ranks of fine crafts people in our area. We also quickly decided that trotting out our city-bred skills in social service would simply be a return to one of the aspects of our lives that we'd fled the metropolis to avoid. And last, the thought of slaving away at minimum-wage, zero-benefit factory jobs didn't swell our hearts with joy either.

At that point, our dream of remaining in the Ozarks might have gone down the drain, except for the fact that our home's Victorian dungeon of a basement lacked that very feature. And no drain meant no laundry hookups, which in turn meant that our clothes had to be schlepped to the local laundromat on a regular basis.

Well, it just so happened that the "suds parlor" we visited sported a dog-eared "For Sale" sign. And as we waited for our clothes to dry, we looked over the building. The more we thought about it, the better the opportunity appeared to us. Now in retrospect, having taken the plunge, we can honestly say we're very glad we did.

After all, our laundromat business is virtually inflation- and recession-proof. As long as we remain competitive, we can set our own prices. (We charge 50¢ per wash load and 25¢ for each 40 minutes of drying.) The business can also be reasonably lucrative. In our town of 11,000 folks, with two competitors, we owner-attendants can gross close to $4,000 in quarters monthly. With a little boost from vending machines, coupled with our leave-the-washing-to-us "bundle" business at 60¢ per pound, we've netted a surprising $1,800 per month.

And we can even set our own schedules as long as we comply with a few basic rules, such as opening on time, keeping the building and environs clean, and servicing the soda pop, coin, and detergent vendors on a regular basis. With those chores taken care of, we can harvest our fields or laze in the river while our 30 dryers and 25 washers toil away (for the most part faithfully) at the task of earning our living.

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