You are here

Memories of Coin-Op Grand Openings Past (Part 1)

Much more than just balloons and a big pair of scissors

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 just a few of them:

Cathy Neilley, Spin Doctor Laundromat

Owner Cathy Neilley hosted a grand opening celebration for her Spin Doctor Laundromat, Hamilton Township, New Jersey, in 2012. It was an open house for the local community. She invited friends and offered free food that came from neighboring stores.

She also invited the mayor and members of the local Chamber of Commerce to attend and participate in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

“(The turnout was) significantly less than I expected. I did not live in the area and had no idea that the mayor of the town had been indicted.”

John Baiada, Tornado Laundromat

To celebrate the grand opening of Tornado’s Bell Street store in June 2019, owner John Baiada arranged a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the City of Amarillo, Texas. There were raffles for preloaded laundry cards, as well as a $1-per-pound wash-dry-fold promotion.

Opening Tornado’s first location years earlier had taught Baiada the importance of having a “soft” opening before the festive grand.

“Laundromats have evolved so much that with all the new technology and card systems, you really need a few days to make sure everything is working in sync and without any issues. It also gives us owners and a management team a chance to train a bunch of employees that are most likely just starting this job. We always do a soft opening now to make sure all systems are working correctly and we have a game plan going into the actual grand opening.”

When contacted, Baiada’s company was preparing to open a fourth location, mindful of pandemic conditions.

“We do think that we may have to adjust some things that we would normally do with promotions and giveaways and tweak them or get rid of them to keep a big rush of customers from flooding the Laundromat and overcrowding the space,” he says.

Ken Barrett, Washin’ Lenlock Coin Laundry

Owner Ken Barrett chose a former Dollar General store as the location for his Washin’ Lenlock Coin Laundry, Anniston, Alabama, which had its grand opening in fall 2018. The 2,400-square-foot laundry was new construction in the front of a 7,200-square-foot building.

“For a month before the grand opening, we placed our large draw tumbler in the store and left postcard-sized ballots for anyone to enter,” he says. “We gave away hundreds of dollars of tokens, jugs of soap and $500 cash during the drawings.”

On the day of the opening, Washin’ Lenlock hosted a free laundry day, providing laundry supplies, pizza, snacks and drinks to all who visited.

“We had a great turnout with a steady stream of people all day,” Barrett recalls. “We have streamlined our system to make it a smooth flow for all customers.”

Yvette Morton Williams, Conyers Best Laundry

At Conyers Best Laundry in Conyers, Georgia, they waited over a month after opening the doors before hosting a big celebration last summer, says owner Yvette Morton Williams.

“We had a talented woman do free face painting for all of the children and some adults as well. We had drawings throughout the day for bicycles and televisions. We also provided free washing for follow-up visits to our attendees, and popcorn, music and cotton candy.

“This was a new Laundromat in a moderately busy shopping plaza. Considering the actions required to increase awareness of our facility, the turnout was good. Local regulations prohibited us from displaying the large sail signs we had purchased on the roads to heighten visibility. If I were to do it again, I would involve our local Chamber of Commerce in this event. The value of a good relationship with your fellow business owners is tremendous.”

Anne Sechler, Whale of a Wash

“We never have gotten very creative with openings and re-openings,” says Anne Sechler, who manages Whale of a Wash, a West Virginia-based business operation that includes 10 Laundromats and three car washes, for her father, owner Hank Walter.

“We like to continue as steady, clean, reliable, able to be reached when a machine is misbehaving, and in a location convenient to our customers. We are open 365 days a year, same hours every day. We never closed during COVID. I continuously updated our Google listing with reliable hours and phone numbers, and we posted social media pictures of our staff cleaning and wearing masks.

“I am excited to read the article, though. Maybe something will strike us and kick us into gear to do something creative!”

Check back Tuesday for more grand opening memories!