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Counting Down Our Top 10 Stories from 2021 (Conclusion)

These are last year’s most-read articles on

CHICAGO — As we begin a New Year, this is a natural opportunity to reflect on 2021 and the Top 10 stories (based on page views) posted on during the year.

(In instances where the Top 10 story was part of a larger series, we have provided additional links so you can easily read the entire article.)

Here is the second half of our Top 10 list for 2021, starting with No. 5:

5. Clean Laundry to Open Its First Stores in Texas

In January, it was announced that a handful of new Clean Laundry stores would open in Arizona, Wisconsin and, for the first time, Texas.

“Forget everything you know about a wash-and-fold laundromat,” said Ethan Akin, co-founder of Clean Laundry; he started the concept with his father, Phil Akin. “Our mission is to deliver a clean, safe, and modern experience that is unlike any other.”

That includes state-of-the-art machines capable of washing and drying loads in less than an hour and a mobile app that allows customers to operate, pay for, and track the progress of their laundry. Free high-speed Wi-Fi, large-screen HDTVs, and USB charging stations are some of the amenities.

The Akins opened the first Clean Laundry store in Waterloo, Iowa, in 2014 and later began licensing the brand name, concept and standards of excellence to other store owners and investors. At the time of the January announcement, the brand was operating under the Clickstop Inc. parent company, with over 20 locations across the country.

4. Alliance Laundry Systems Acquires PWS Distribution Assets

In February, commercial laundry equipment manufacturer Alliance Laundry Systems acquired the distribution assets of PWS Inc., the largest North American distributor of Alliance’s Speed Queen brand equipment and parts. Brad Steinberg and Brad Pollack, PWS co-presidents, remained in executive roles for Alliance.

The purchase agreement specifically excluded PWS’s route business, which Alliance said would be sold separately to unaffiliated third-party buyers.

PWS opened in 1968 and has since become a leader in the commercial laundry business, Alliance said, with California offices in Los Angeles, South San Francisco and San Diego.

3. Tide Unveils Its First Laundromat

As part of Tide’s focus to bring innovation and new technologies to the out-of-home laundry services industry, the Procter & Gamble brand unveiled its first Tide Laundromat in Chicago in early 2021.

Tide called the store at 7558 N. Western Ave., in the Rogers Park neighborhood, “a revolutionary new laundromat experience that eliminates guesswork from laundry — with smart-dosing machines and providing the perfect amount of detergent and softener in every wash.”

The Tide Laundromat app with Tide Rewards loyalty program shows machine availability, cutting out the inconvenience of showing up to a store with no washer free. In addition to cash and coin-based payment, the app enables mobile payment.

Clean bathrooms, comfortable common areas and modern woodgrain finishes are built right into the Tide model. Detergents from Tide and Gain, fabric softeners from Downy and Gain, and Bounce dryer sheets are included with every wash.

2. Another Laundry Services Franchise Enters U.S. Marketplace

Mr Jeff—a laundry franchise that modernized the task in more than 30 countries through a 48-hour pickup and delivery mobile app-based service—began expanding into the United States in April. Initially, the franchisor offered the opportunity to qualified parties in select cities in 13 states.

Mr Jeff franchisees could take advantage of a turnkey model, with everything needed to run the business from day one, with three proprietary technology products: an app for customers to schedule services; management software designed to attend to the needs of the business and cater its growth; and a second app to manage all pickup-and-delivery timings and routes.

Shortly after announcing its arrival in the U.S., Mr Jeff signed an agreement with venture capital fund Clean Ventures. Through the deal, which included an investment by Clean Ventures and a partnership with Clean Rite stores, Mr Jeff was able to leverage Clean Rite’s established customer base by operating inside select Clean Rite laundromats. By the end of 2021, Mr Jeff had opened two flagship hubs inside existing Clean Rite locations in New York City.

1. 2020-21 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry, Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Conclusion

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry Survey report released in April showed that the self-service laundry business wasn’t immune to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact.

For 2020, 35.6% of operators said their overall vended laundry business in gross dollar volume increased from that of 2019, with an average business increase of 7.1%. However, nearly 58% of operators said they faced a decline in total business, with the average drop being 20.5%. Drop-off service also took a hit, with more than half of operators reporting a decrease in that business.

The average turns per day for top loaders amongst respondents was 3.3, which matched the prior year’s survey. For front loaders, the average was 4.2 turns per day, compared to 3.6 registered in the 2019-20 survey.

Just under 46% of respondents purchased at least one piece of equipment (washer, dryer, water heater, vending machine, or other) in 2020. Utilities cost, finding/keeping good employees, and labor costs were the top three among the “biggest challenges” identified by respondents.

At the time of the survey, roughly 64% of respondents believed their 2021 total business would be better than 2020’s. Nearly 29% expected business to be about the same, and 6.8% believed their business wouldn’t perform as well in 2021 as it did in 2020.

If you missed Part 1 with our top stories ranked 10 through 6, you can read it HERE.