MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Laurent Broda is back on the beach. He’s not hitting the surf, but making waves once again in Miami Beach’s coin-op scene.
Five years after taking the plunge with his first My Sunny Laundry on the famed isle’s north end, this clothier-turned-launderer is now basking in the success of a retool that sits pretty in oh-so-trendy South Beach.
But this recent addition to his seven-store-strong chain is also his smallest, coming in at just 1,000 square feet. Make no mistake, with laundries dotting the metro Miami map from the ocean coast on the east to Hialeah on the west and Cutler Bay to the south, Broda is by no means downsizing operations. Rather, he’s proving that good things do indeed come in tiny packages.
SMALL PLACE PERFORMS LIKE BIG ONE
“I always thought that a small place could perform like a big one,” he says during our chat in a café across from his new outpost on bustling Alton Road, the western business arterial where SoBe denizens and snowbirds alike shop, eat and wash.
Departing the laundry is at my suggestion as the late-afternoon crowd jockeys for position to load up the next available tumbler and their turn at the limited folding-table space.
Call it intimate, My Sunny Laundry South Beach is a place where neighbors literally bump into each other. The 3-foot-wide wash aisles are cozy, much like the main 6-footer, which gets reduced to a mere 4 feet at the tables — even less when occupied.
Chaotic as it may seem at peak times, everybody is cordial and follows the unwritten rule of anyone with a full cart of wash-spun clothes gets first dibs on an open stack pocket.
But what the venue lacks in size it makes up for in style. The stainless steel machinery is framed with a backdrop of soft orange hues, capped by Corian countertops, and adorned with stylish fans overhead and marble-like flooring underfoot.
The postage-stamp-sized coin-op is an anomaly in the My Sunny chain, where the largest store boasts 7,500 square feet of space and a ton of wash capacity. Yet even with its small footprint, the South Beach branch offers what the others do: self-service at the front of the house, complemented by full-service laundry’s holy trinity — drop-off, commercial service and door-to-door pick-up and delivery.
Shoehorning all that into a 22-by-45-foot box might seem like a tight squeeze, but when you write the landlord a $7,000 rent check, offering customers everything under the sun makes sense.
Options is the one word that best sums up Broda’s approach to laundering and goes beyond do-it-yourself, drop-and-go, or leave the driving to us. It’s part of the menu at the two dozen front loaders, where auto-injected soap and softener are on tap.
Addressing self-service laundry’s pain points is very much on this operator’s mind. And, to him, it all starts with what gets dragged along with the dirty duds.
“The thing that bothers the customer the most is to have to bring the soap and the softener and use the correct amount,” he explains. “I give them a solution. I give them an option.” His value proposition: Push a convenient pay button and save the hassle.
My Sunny’s “All In” upgrades are available on hot, warm and cold wash settings, and automatically deliver pre-programmed amounts of liquid detergent and fabric softener when selected from the bilingual English-Spanish scrolling menu display.
On the 16 20-pound front loaders, the “All In” treatment bumps up the normal base vend price of $3.50 to $6 for any temperature setting. At the four 40-pound washers, it’s a $3 upgrade from the $5.50 base price; stepping up on the three 40s takes the price from $6.75 to $10.25; and, over at the single 60-pounder, it’s $13.75, up $5 from a base of $8.75.
For those who wish to opt for an enhanced “All In Heavy” cycle, the upgrade is 50 cents on top of the “All In” vend price.
A slimline profile cabinet housing containers sits on the floor at one end of each bulkhead. From there, tubing snakes discreetly to the rear of the machines, automatically feeding the soap and softener.
Bilingual English-Spanish wall signs, designed to educate customers on the program’s benefits, are reinforced with bright decals on the washer panel bearing the message: “Tired of bringing your detergents? Go All In.”
Broda reports one in five customers take him up on the offer, and says the amenity has particularly strong appeal to his walk-up self-serve clientele that doesn’t arrive by car and park in the shared rear lot.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!