CHICAGO — One classic dilemma when designing your laundry is how much space you should devote to your customers. If rental space is expensive, you might want to cut back on seating and tables. However, if you create a comfortable coin laundry with adequate seating and tables, that may be one reason why people choose your laundry and ignore the one down the street.Two representatives from companies that offer coin laundry furnishings express their views on the subject.A CHANGING INDUSTRYJust as there are design options with coin laundries, there are options when it comes to seating and tables, says DeWitt Gorman, president, Sol-O-matic, Caco Mfg. Corp.“We make a large selection of fiberglass tables, seating units and new laminate-surfaced tables,” Gorman says. Coin laundry owners can choose from a large selection of solid colors, granite finishes and laminate designs.The industry has changed, he explains, and there is more need to be concerned with maintaining your furnishings’ appearance in today’s “rough” coin laundry environment.When deciding on your furnishings, Gorman suggests taking a close look at the laminated fiberglass tables. “Unusual finishes are a big deal today, as are the granites, and they tend to hide wear.”Safety is also a major concern. Gorman says operators can buy cheaper products designed for home use, etc., but he highly recommends that whatever you buy, make sure to get commercial equipment that is designed for the use to which you put it.“Coin laundry customers and their children are rough on furnishings, and any injuries caused by a product being used inappropriately will leave the storeowner liable. Securing your furnishings in position against abuse is a must.”With coin laundry owners opening more posh stores today, Gorman says his company is addressing design issues and will adapt to the needs of the coin laundry industry. “We will do whatever the people want us to do.”DURABLE YET UPSCALE“Our whole structure is based on laminated particle board,” says Richard Pennington, R.J. Papalini Mfg. Co. “We deal in one-sided, two-sided or raw particle board. We’ve got hundreds of different colors to choose from. Solid colors are very popular.”For laundries, seating units, bulkheads and endcaps are the most popular sellers, he says. “Typically, a four-seater (two seats going one way, two the other) is popular.” When the seats are placed next to a window it’s common that they go one way; in an aisle, the seats usually go in both directions, he adds. Durability plays a key role in both the seats and tables. “With folding tables using one-inch laminate board, you can dance on it.” Which material should you choose? Johnson says he has heard positive reaction for both fiberglass and particle board. “Either way both of these will last long. You want a new look lasting for eight to 10 years.” Fiberglass may be a bit lighter, he says, and some may believe fiberglass might last longer. However, he says the operators using the particle board may have a different opinion.Whatever material you choose, you shouldn’t ignore safety. “Everything we sell comes with bolt downs, whether people want it or not. We highly recommend [bolting furnishings down].”“The nice thing about our structure is all the stuff we make is custom, nothing is sitting on the shelves ready to go out. We can build anything operators want. If the laundry is in the local area, we will go out and do the measurements ourself.”To satisfy the needs of customers in a hustle-and-bustle society, more laundries offer a variety of drop-off services. Pennington says his company also offers drycleaning counters and coin laundry operators ask them to build tables that resemble the drycleaning counters. “It’s an upscale look. All of these things attract customers. People are more apt to visit a cleaner, more comfortable store.”In addition to new counters for the drycleaning industry that can be adapted for coin laundries, one of R.J. Papalini’s latest offerings is a picnic table comprised of a four-seat unit with a table attached.