As 2008 comes to a close, American Coin-Op takes a look back at the year’s best ideas and most interesting stories. Many of these stories, which are organized as they appeared in print, appear here at AmericanCoinOp.com, which is now updated nearly every weekday. If you want to get a head start on 2009, sign up for a subscription, free to anyone in the industry, by filling out a form here.JANUARYEvery January, American Coin-Op showcases the industry’s best stores in its Coin-Op Beautiful competition, and the judging this year, as always, was a challenge. The Girdwood Laundromat, an Alaska laundry, took the grand prize. Danny Pfister is the owner, and Automated Laundry Systems & Supply is the distributor.Have you thought about operating a 24-hour store, or were you scared off in the past? Jim Gleeson, The Laundry Lounge, Niagara Falls, N.Y., went 24 hours and attracted new customers, and business increased 30%.Mark Benson, columnist, offered five tips to improve your store, including starting a marketing/advertising campaign, evaluating your employee pay scale, seeing what competitors are charging and deciding if it’s time to raise prices, and more.FEBRUARYIf you’re thinking about expanding the Laundromat concept, look at EZ New Web Laundromat & Cafe in Culver City, Calif. Marion Illies, owner, has a 3,100-square-foot operation that features a laundry and cyber cafe under one roof.Are you happy with your vending revenue? Angela Olson, Seaga Mfg. Inc., offers insights about maximizing vending profitability, such as conducting vending surveys, stocking more of the popular sellers, and making sure all your venders are visible and accessible.Barry Hammond, Southeastern Laundry Equipment Sales, offers nine suggestions to better deal with customers.MARCHTraining employees is relatively simple, and needs to be part of your laundry plan, Jim Kell, Laundry Equipment Services, says. He offered tips on dealing with employees.APRILApril features American Coin-Op’s State of the Industry Survey. Check out the equipment section here and the pricing section here.MAYReady to tackle commercial accounts? Before you do, make sure that you are taking care of your regular customers, Barry Hammond advises. He offers tips for these kinds of accounts.JUNELooking for more ways to improve vending profits? Here are some more vending tips. Equipment purchasing incentives are part of the tax stimulus package. Laundry owners simply need to purchase new equipment and make sure it is put into service in 2008 to qualify for the 50% bonus depreciation, says Todd Rice, director of financial services at Alliance Laundry Systems.If you want to enjoy summer and boost profits, you need to think about five things, such as making sure your air conditioning is ready, finishing your spring cleaning, and seeing if customer vending habits have changed, says Mark Benson.Check out Part 2 of this story next Friday!