PEMBROKE, Mass. — You know it when you see it. I am talking about what I have been preaching for nearly 11 years: creating a Laundromat that’s attractive, competent and clean.
Not attractive in a glitzy, expensive way, but the place that you would like to go to. It’s laid out well on the outside, is efficient and organized on the inside.
Not too long ago, I drove by this “perfect” Laundromat in the small town of Abington, Mass. Although I had passed by before, something made me pull into the parking lot this time. It seemed, well, perfect.
The first thing that hits you is the large, free-standing sign, Old Town Superwash, in red, blue and white. It’s visible to all passersby on both roads, coming and going. The sign is planted in a rich green lawn, and there are flowers and well-groomed bushes underneath. The greenery is obviously well-maintained.
The sign is at the head of the property, which widens out to a V-shaped parking lot in front of a white building. In fact, two roads, North Street and Birch Street, converge at the sign to create the V shape of the property. Ingress and egress is the full length of the parking lot from both streets.
So, whatever direction you come from, on either street, east to west or vice-versa, you both notice the facility and can enter at any spot in the parking lot. In total, 18 vehicles can easily be parked there, plus a few more cars can be fitted in on either side of the building.
I say “easily” because each space is 9 feet wide, clearly marked with white lines, and accessible from the road. The line striping is so crisp and white, it seems it was done yesterday. Running the length of the parking lot is a center strip of well-tended plantings. You park in a wide parking space, get out, and step on the macadam. It becomes clear that the parking lot was well thought-out.
The sidewalk that surrounds the building on two sides is wide. The building is gleaming white, with large wraparound windows on the front and one side of the structure. A sloping, mansard-shaped blue roof sits atop the building. The double-door entrance makes for easy movement.
Inside, the place is airy, open, and active. Rows of machines are color-coded: silver washers on one side, smaller washers in white on the other side. A bank of dryers, two-high, line the rear of the store. To the right are more machines. All the equipment looks like it was just unloaded from cartons.
You soon notice the nine rolling carts, which makes it easy to transport loads to your car. Six tables are spread throughout the facility. Along the front window is a blue “double” table that is 17 feet long. Alongside the tables are comfortable blue chairs. Underneath these tables are several rubber trash cans, lined with garbage bags.
The wraparound windows give the place an open-air look. The walls are mauve, and fluorescent lighting makes the inside “sunshiny.” The tan ceramic-tile floor hardly has a scuff mark. The ruffled-textured ceiling muffles the music that is softly played in the background. A large clock on the wall shows the time. You can see that this shop is kept in pristine condition.
All the equipment uses cards; no money passes. So, you buy a card for a dollar, then add value using money or credit cards. In the front area is a money-changing machine. After you spend $25, that initial fee is credited, so the card is ultimately free.
All machines display the vend price, along with helpful information, such as number of loads the machine takes. There’s a wide range of equipment: washers from 18 to 80 pounds, as well as small-load, medium-load, and large-load dryers. All are front-load units for greater efficiency. You fill the machine with your clothes, insert your card, and the washer goes to work.
There is no attendant, but there doesn’t have to be. All is self-explanatory. There is little signage. You feel comfortable with a lot of people doing their loads. The sign up front says that Old Town Superwash is open 5 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. You smile to yourself, knowing you will return.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!