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New Laundromat Owner Undaunted by COVID-19 Challenges (Conclusion)

Pickup/delivery coming later this year, commercial work in future

LOS ANGELES — After many years as a successful residential property manager, Denise Morton decided it was time for a change and entered into the vended laundry business.

She found an outdated laundromat in a highly visible location in a densely packed neighborhood. Morton formed an immediate connection to the former owner which not only favored her sale offer, it eased her transition into the business.

Morton acquired The Laundry Room, a 3,200-square-foot Culver City, Calif., laundromat, in January 2020. She immediately put an extensive remodeling plan into action, working with laundry specialist Michael Ambrose of Dexter distributor Western State Design, but everything was thrown into disarray when COVID-19 struck Southern California.

As an “essential” business, Morton could keep her doors open even during lockdown, but customer traffic tailed off and she paused construction. As the virus-related business disruption continued for months, the new owner resisted the temptation to walk away from her venture and eventually saw the renovation and retooling completed.

Today, Morton attributes The Laundry Room’s growing popularity to many favorable features and amenities, including:

  • Its proximity to other popular retail destinations in its area;
  • Twenty-four private parking spaces adjacent to the front entrance;
  • Highly visible and attractive signage and exterior;
  • Freshly painted walls and clean, polished floors, creating a bright and airy interior;
  • A full complement of new Dexter coin- or card-operated commercial washers (12 T-400 30-pounders, nine T-600 40-pounders and four T-900 60-pounders, an increasingly popular large-capacity model), and dryers (10 50x2 [50-pound pockets] reversing stacks and six 30x2 stacks), all visible through the large front windows;
  • A change machine;
  • Vending machines offering popular laundry products;
  • Free Wi-Fi, plus USB charging stations;
  • Large-screen TVs featuring popular movie streaming channels and Atmosphere TV;
  • Attendants on duty (store is partially attended weekdays, full-time on weekends) to assist customers; and
  • A wash-and-fold service (introduced during the early days of COVID-19, rather than later as originally planned).

Morton praised Ambrose for his assistance, saying he “truly guided me along my new laundromat business journey with his expertise and patience. He didn’t act at all like a typical salesperson; he was more like an advisor/mentor/partner. He introduced me to other successful entrepreneurs in the LA area commercial laundry business, which has been an invaluable resource.”

Looking forward, Morton continues to have ambitious plans for her laundry business. She intends to add pickup and delivery service sometime during the second half of this year, and she plans to pursue local commercial laundry business.

In the meantime, she’s determined to continue learning as much as she can about her new industry by joining various trade associations and networking with industry leaders.

Morton concedes that the challenges of running a small business such as this one will remain, even as the pandemic’s threat recedes. But she promises that she’ll be ready for them.

“Because of my property management background, I am conditioned and prepared for the plethora of mishaps that can occur: leaks, flooding, power outages, broken machines, angry customers, graffiti, you name it,” she says.

And there are aspects of her new job that she likes: “What I do prefer about the laundry business is the repeat face-to-face interaction with customers in the store, as compared to phone or email interactions with tenants.”

Morton is confident that if she provides a good product, is responsive to people’s needs and provides a high level of customer service—and continues with her long-term approach of investing in new equipment—The Laundry Room will be successful.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.