HAWTHORNE, Calif. — It’s not every day that you shake hands with a store operator who owns almost as many thoroughbred racehorses as laundry machines. And when those washers and dryers are housed at a Laundromat-gym tandem pumping water and iron 24/7, you know that guy is one of a kind.

Owner Jerry Jamgotchian calls out as I walk through the main entry of his Coast Laundry, a 7,000-square-foot behemoth just south of Los Angeles International Airport. Little did he know I’d already spent the better part of this early Sunday morning washing a load while admiring the neighboring Coast Fitness and its footprint nearly seven times that of the Laundromat.

Much as I was tempted to talk about the sport of kings with this prominent and outspoken figure in the racing community, today would be all about Jamgotchian’s clean and fit trifecta.

WASH-DRY-FOLD SNEAK PEEK

The genial host ushers me to an inline space between the plaza’s anchors for a sneak peek at his soon-to-debut freestanding wash-dry-fold facility, where finishing touches to a former dry cleaner are under way in preparation for the first laundry bundle.

[Editors Note: Coast Laundry Wash + Fold has opened since this column was written.] 

Make that the second bundle. Gutting the old plant and readying the brand-spanking-new 1,600-square-foot drop-off laundry is a nearly $500,000 package.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Jamgotchian says of the price tag as we stride past the dozen front loaders and 14 dryer pockets poised to tumble behind the decidedly upscale foyer.

Front and center at the service counter is Coast Laundry Wash + Fold’s promise: “Your clothes deserve the very best! We’ll handle them with care!”

The new venture will capitalize on an impeccable reputation earned over the years in the South Bay community, says Jamgotchian: “We have really good brand recognition in this area. They know it’s going to be clean, professionally done, and we will provide them the service they expect.”

The operator insists he’ll stand behind the turnaround time of each and every order: “It will be ready or it’s free.”

A glance around the 64-washer/62-dryer Coast Laundry steps away begs the question as to why there’s even the need for a standalone drop-off venue. The answer is simple: demand.

Leasing a corner space inside Coast to an independent wash-dry-fold provider may generate rent for the store owner, but it often shortchanges self-serve patrons competing for machines in his bustling facility.

“It takes washers and dryers away from the public and impacts the customer experience,” he says of the arrangement. “I recognized that and said we can do a lot more flow and a lot more business moving over there.”

TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE

The expansive Coast Laundry venue was jointly designed by Jamgotchian and well-known industry veteran David Horton, and equipped through PWS - The Laundry Company. The layout is a textbook example of maximizing throughput and minimizing congestion.

Occupying a wide storefront with unobstructed sight lines from the arterial roadway, the store enjoys access to 300-plus shared parking stalls and provides both front and rear entry for patrons.

Twin 80-pound washers — with variable vend pricing starting at $8.80 and rising to $10.15 for a hot water/heavy cycle setting — serve as front endcaps on the three main back-to-back bulkheads.

Along the west side of the facility and adjacent to a loyalty card-loading station stands a trio of 100-pounders commanding vends from $10.80 to $12.25 per load, all within easy reach of four 75-pound single-pocket tumblers priced at $0.79 per 10 minutes.

The store’s mainline bulkheads house the remaining 55 washers, including 21 20-pounders variably priced from $2.40 to $3.65; 20 40-pounders from $4.60 to $5.85; and 14 60-pounders from $6.60 to $7.85 per load.

In a departure from equipment mix norms, the majority of tumblers ringing Coast Laundry’s perimeter are high-capacity, single-pocket models, including 28 50-pound models vending for $0.79 per 15 minutes, as well as six additional 75-pound units.

A row of a dozen 30-pound stacks — representing fewer than four out of 10 pockets — round out the spacious dryer department, and are priced at $0.79 per 20 minutes.

Folding space is abundant and positioned within close proximity of dryer doors. The custom countertop runs are divided, effectively carving out nearly three dozen personal compartments. Upper-tier shelving at the stations ensures maximum working surface area.

Laundry carts are in ample supply, with a rolling basket for each of Coast’s 64 washers, many decorated with imprinted tote bags that are free for the taking. Jamgotchian estimates over 80,000 of the cloth premium giveaways have been grabbed up since the store’s debut.

Lounge areas, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, 14 big-screen TVs, natural skylights, central air and twin 12-foot overhead fans add comfort.

Karen Howard is one of the regulars who pass up other stores to frequent Coast.

“It’s cleaner, it’s 24 hours, and it’s easy to get in and out,” she tells me after loading up eight machines. The 50- and 75-pound dryers and debit card-pay option receive a big thumbs-up from Howard, who says she spends $40 or more per visit.

The flagship laundry’s nearly three tons of combined self-service wash and dry capacity will be complemented by machinery inside the dedicated wash-and-fold space. The mix boasts nine 20-pounders, two 40-pounders and one 60-pounder — capable of 400-g force extract before loading into the seven 45-pound stack dryers.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!