Freshening Up Your Store, from Simple to Elaborate

For each season, multi-store owner Paul Russo hung a themed banner inside his mats, and sometimes a wreath or two, as shown here. (Photo: Paul Russo)

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Freshening Up Your Store, from Simple to Elaborate (Part 2)

Pointers from Paulie B: Put some easy, inexpensive fix-ups to use

GLENDALE, Ariz. — When first built, most laundromats look terrific. They’re immaculately clean and shiny, with all-new machines, floors, walls, tables, sign and doors. Maybe even a new storefront, as well. New mats attract many customers.

Knowing this, my best strategy over the years was to simply keep my mats looking like new. And it worked! The problem is that one must invest more time and money periodically to maintain that look and feel.

If you’ve been reading my column, you’ll see that most of the things I recommend here are just “common sense,” along with a touch of some “out of the box” solutions. In Part 1, I began by offering some easy, inexpensive fix-ups. Here are some more:


Dealing with Water Stains on Ceiling Tiles — If you use acoustic ceiling tiles, you know that a small drip from your roof can easily stain them. If you change the stained tile with a new one, it will stand out whiter than the rest. 

For a quick, easy fix, buy a can of flat white spray paint to touch it up. If your tiles are older, faded and yellowed, try to match the color with a can of off-white flat paint.

If all your tiles are too faded, you can simply paint them all with a white ceiling paint and a roller. The next day, your store will look much brighter!

Clean Light Fixtures — If you have ceiling troffers, lint tends to accumulate on the lenses, eventually making your mat darker and darker. Once a year, it’s good to clean them out and change any bad bulbs. 

This isn’t necessary if you have exposed strip-light fixtures using LED bulbs. For them, a quick blast from your air gun should do the trick.

Light Bulb Replacement/Choices — A brightly lit mat can be uplifting and heighten security. Change fluorescent light bulbs every two years, or switch to LEDs.

Consider changing the color temperature. I started out with cool white bulbs, which are around 4000K, but I found that daylight bulbs (5000K) give a better feeling. Lots of 5000K light will make laundry colors pop; whites will look whiter, and colors will look brighter.

Replace Old Decals on Machines — A washer or dryer that has old, torn, ripped, or curled-up decals can look terrible. It’s not hard nor expensive to assess your equipment’s appearance and order new decals. The difference can be dramatic.

(Tip: Use a hair dryer to soften decals, spray the residual glue with WD-40, scrape with an old credit or store card, then wipe.)

Hang Seasonal Banners — I would hang four different banners inside my mats, one for each season. Sometimes I’d hang a wreath or two as well. These things bring cheer to your store. When the season is over, take them down, store them away for next year, and put up your next season’s banner.

Flower Arrangements — Artificial flowers add class to a store. It doesn’t cost much to go to your local home goods or department store and pick up some decorative arrangements or other attractive accents.

Don’t Forget the Paint, but... — I tried to keep my mats as paint-free as possible, because it seems that once you paint something, you have to paint it again and again over time.

So instead of paint, look to use diamond plating, PVC or vinyl molding, formica, tiles, FRP panels … you get the idea. Still, sometimes paint is a quick, easy way to freshen up your store.

A nice thing to keep the corners looking fresh inside your mat is to glue on 2-inch stainless steel corner molding.

Remove Graffiti — Since most graffiti is solvent-based, citrus cleaners are useful. Mineral spirits work as well. Acetone (nail polish remover) works really well, but you should be careful not to use it on a painted surface; always test an inconspicuous area first. 

Appeal to Their Noses — Some mats smell terrible, often because backed-up wet lint is growing bacteria. Common trouble areas are under washers, in dirty restrooms, and in your drain trough (if you have one) or drain system (if you don’t have good traps and vents). These all need to be kept clean on a routine basis. Get rid of the wet lint and dirt and you’ll get rid of the sour smells.

Take it a step further and soak a couple wet rags every day in liquid softener and hang them up. Your mat will smell great!

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion, featuring ‘more elaborate fresh-ups’!

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].