Has Mojave Desert Met Its Match in Lucy’s Laundromat?

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Ample access to parking and “great visibility” were among the factors that drew Sterling Phillips Jr. to retool an existing laundry in Palmdale, Calif., into what became Lucy’s Laundromat. (Photos: Laundrylux)

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Phillips Jr. was intent on creating a “well-lit, wide-open space that offers a roomy folding area and a large mix of machines to appeal to all customers.”

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The Phillips brothers: Sean (left) and Sterling Jr.

Drought, strict water conservation efforts don’t dissuade multi-store owner, distributor

Editor's Note: A number of vended laundry projects are completed around the country each year, resulting in brand-new or rejuvenated stores primed and ready to serve customers.

As a way to celebrate the hard work that goes into designing, building and equipping a modern vended laundry, American Coin-Op created this Portraits of Success feature to spotlight memorable projects of recent vintage.

And so equipment manufacturers and distributors were invited to tout their latest and greatest coin laundry projects. Here is one of the stories they shared:

PALMDALE, Calif. — Strict water conservation efforts, severe drought conditions and low water supplies might have dissuaded the average investor from opening a Laundromat here in the Mojave Desert. But that didn’t stop Sterling Phillips Jr., a multi-store owner and SES Laundry distributor.

In fact, Phillips Jr. thought the desert locale was ideal for his next venture, Lucy’s Laundromat. “For starters, the area is spread out and attracts customers far and wide,” he says. “I liked that the existing store was large, approximately 3,000 square feet, plus it had ample access to parking, and great visibility.”

Keenly aware that competitors nearby had smaller locations, older equipment and much less parking, and upon studying the area’s demographics, Phillips Jr. deemed there was sufficient demand for a new, improved laundry in Palmdale.

He credits his father, Sterling Phillips Sr., for his chosen career path. The elder Phillips was a store owner before becoming a distributor in 1988, and he often involved his children in his businesses. Thus, Phillips Jr. has experienced every aspect of a laundry business—from cleaning, maintenance and management to multi-store development and ownership.

Today, Phillips Jr. still works with his family. “As the family business diversified throughout the years, my brother [Sean] moved in the direction of managing our self-serve laundries, while I took on the SES distributorship.”

With his hands-on know-how and the design and equipment resources of SES Laundry behind him, Phillips Jr. began the business of retooling the outdated laundry into a well-lit, wide-open space that offers a roomy folding area and a large mix of machines to appeal to all customers.

“All the utilities and carpentry were in place,” he says. “We just needed to paint, fit LED lighting in the walls, and install a card system and, of course, get all-new equipment.”

The store opened in March 2014. The only equipment he considered for the project was Electrolux Professional brand, because it’s specifically designed to save on water and energy costs.

“Electrolux Professional washers offer incredible custom programming, which gives me control over my utility consumption per wash, saving me up to 30% on water. The G-force extraction is very important to the customer and business owner, allowing for a much faster dry time, and, again, reducing energy consumption.”

The Compass Pro feature gives Phillips Jr. the opportunity for higher revenue. For instance, he can offer his customers special wash cycles like “heavy soil” or “extra rinse.”

He says the average Lucy’s Laundromat patron is in and out in 45 minutes to an hour, thanks in large part to equipment efficiency.

Because Lucy’s Laundromat is a card store, Phillips Jr. can offer bonuses, discounts and promotions that competitors can’t.

The desert may have its challenges, yet Lucy’s Laundromat is designed to be comfortable and appealing in spite of drastic weather changes or water restrictions.

“I receive so many compliments on the store—how airy, clean, and safe it is—but honestly the majority of the raves are about the Electrolux washers and dryers,” Phillips Jr. says.

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