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Memories of Coin-Op Grand Openings Past (Conclusion)

An important first impression to thread yourself into fabric of community

CHICAGO — Inspired by the “Grand Opening 101” article recently published in American Coin-Op, the magazine invited readers to share their memories of grand openings past. Here are a few more of them:

Karl Hinrichs, for the late Nancy Sousa, Town Line Laundromat

Karl Hinrichs, of distributor HK Laundry, recalls a special grand opening involving client Nancy Sousa and her Town Line Laundromat in Rocky Hill, Connecticut:

“Nancy Sousa had been downsized by corporate America and was looking for a business that she could manage and operate, and she chose Laundromats. HK (Laundry) assisted her in building her Laundromat in an old bank building in a strip mall shopping center.”

Opening a new business can be strenuous on its own. Sousa, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and had undergone several rounds of treatment, discovered weeks before the October 2010 grand opening that her cancer had spread, according to “One Day at a Time,” an American Coin-Op article from 2011.

Singing was a passion of Sousa’s. Hinrichs says she had a throaty, Janis Joplin-type voice and routinely performed at Susan G. Komen® Breast Cancer Foundation events.

“For Nancy’s grand opening event, she organized a group of her musician friends to play great music in front of the Laundromat. Nancy … also came out to perform a musical number or two.”

Sousa combined the grand opening with a fund-raiser and raffles that also supported the Susan G. Komen fight against breast cancer.

“This grand opening event was the celebration of Nancy’s passions: Laundromats, music, and the fight against breast cancer.”

Sousa died in April 2013 at the age of 51.

Michael Nemetz, Spin Cycle Laundry Lounge Manteca

When Spin Cycle Laundry Lounge Manteca was preparing to open in the California community in 2017, Michael Nemetz and his team contacted the local Chamber of Commerce, which helped them organize a grand opening complete with ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The store was decorated with balloons, and a large “Grand Opening” banner was hung on the building. Customers and Chamber of Commerce members enjoyed free coffee, donuts, popcorn and other refreshments. Self-service wash was 50% off for the day.

“The turnout was huge. Busy all day from open until close,” Nemetz says. “The balloons in the parking lot, ‘Grand Opening’ sign on the building and sidewalk flags all created a lot of attention. The one thing I would have done differently was not call the City to ask how to properly close the parking lot off for the day.

“The original plan was to hire a radio station to broadcast from our parking lot and have a place for people to mill about. The City threw so many rules and regulations at me that I realized I should have just done it—not asked for permission—and apologized after the fact.”

As he was preparing to open Megawash Laundromat Carmichael in February 2020, he again asked the local Chamber of Commerce to arrange for a grand opening mixer. Only this time, because of the pandemic, they declined, so Nemetz’s team did what it could.

“We hung a very large ‘Grand Opening’ banner on the store. Several neon ‘Open’ signs and banners that said ‘Open Now’ hung in the windows. I also had a window artist paint large signs and images on our glass highlighting our pickup/delivery and curbside laundry service.”

Luke Williford, The Wash House Laundromat

In 2018, after renovating a combined dry cleaner and laundry into the 3,500-square-foot Wash House Laundromat in Durham, North Carolina, Luke Williford was ready for the grand opening.

“We did one of what we have come to call ‘Community Hugs’ events, which is a free-laundry day as our grand opening,” he says. “The turnout was good but not as many customers were retained as we hoped. We went all out: pizza, reading, ribbon-cutting, over 20 volunteers, bounce house. It was a great day where we washed nearly 20,000 pounds of laundry in an 8-hour window.”

Despite the early interest, after being open six months, Wash House was just at break-even. But an opportunity arose for the business to really give back to the community.

“The city of Durham had a public housing crisis where contamination was found in a lot of public housing and residents were moved by the hundreds to hotels. Working with local officials, a need for laundry was vital. So we decided to provide free laundry every Thursday to anyone affected by the public housing crisis.”

Generosity is not soon forgotten, Williford says.

“All those who came and got the free service now are regular paying customers. From month 6 of being open to month 12, business doubled, and I pay tribute mainly to being involved in what was happening in the community and acting to help. It is vital to remember the communities we serve are top priority and we must aim to thread ourselves in the fabric of these communities to see long-term success.”

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.