PEMBROKE, Mass. — There is a Laundromat in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, named Coin Clean Laundry. It’s the place to be.
Perhaps it’s because of the coffee bar there, called Snow Dome Coffee Bar. Perhaps it’s because of the plush chairs.
Perhaps it’s because of the bank of computers, or the paintings with price tags on the wall. Or it’s because of the book exchange. Or perhaps it’s because of its large size, more than 3,000 square feet.
Whatever the reason, it’s the place to be on a cold winter day—or on a warm summer day, for that matter—because it’s social, comfortable and cozy.
Your store probably is not like this. People go there with one task in mind: cleaning their clothes. Accordingly, they spend as little time as possible there.
Often, they put in a load and go off to do chores. But consider that, with a little tweaking, with an offering of a few services, your store could be a Laundromat/café.
START WITH CLEAN, BRIGHT, AIRY
A clean place with bright interior lights and airy outside lighting is the starting point. Perhaps add a table with four comfortable chairs for people to sit and work. If you have space, two tables would be preferable. You might install a coffee machine as part of your vending offerings, or even have a selection of fresh pastries. The attendant can oversee any transactions, but if yours is an unintended store, you might have a vending machine offering basic snacks.
Making your facility Wi-Fi-accessible is good for everyone. Setting up a one-shelf bookcase with 40 novels and non-fiction tomes is a plus. Having a small tray of current magazines is good. Hanging art for sale around the store makes for a really “cool” Laundromat.
Of course, such a store needs an attendant. Leaving art unattended is asking for trouble. But the basic of having a table with chairs along with a coffee vending machine requires no attendant. Voila—you have transformed your Laundromat into a café. Maybe, you’ve spent $1,500 to 2,500. Certainly not as much as a makeover.
A word about the table: It need not be fancy or even new. An old table with four wooden chairs with armrests would do. This may be something you could find in a Goodwill store or second-hand furniture shop.
To win patronage, you must aggressively (not expensively) promote your offering. Place a sandwich board sign in front of your store, with the enlarged photo of the table alongside the comment, “Wi-Fi Available Here Now.” Print up circulars that include a photo of your café section. Perhaps the headline reads, “Clean your clothes in a café ambiance.” Or, “Sit with friends while you clean your clothes.” The photo might have three people sitting at the table, two sipping coffee, chatting, and the third using her computer. A nice, comfy scene.
Hang the circular on all bulletin boards, town message boards, and public buildings. Go to the local college and put on bulletin boards. If you can’t get into dormitories, hire a student to do it for you. Meet young people and hand circulars to them; this could be done as simply as standing on street corners and offering a brief explanation. Advocate to anyone who will listen that your store is a cool place to go to get clothes clean.
It might take a few months but you will see new customers sitting at the table, working on their computers or talking to others while waiting for their wash to finish. Sales will increase.
Why go through this trouble? Why spend money if you don’t have to?
Why use up valuable space that could house more machines placed there to enlarge capacity? Why try to introduce something extraneous to your main business?
Why? Because you can create a café ambiance that will give you a signature identity in your marketplace. Most likely, there are no café/Laundromat combinations in your marketing area and new customers who are used to frequenting coffee shops will give your store a try.
You’ll become the place to go when someone wants to meet someone else. It will give you cachet.
Simply put, smell the coffee.
If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.