THATCHER, Ariz. — The Station Laundromat, a coin-op laundry opened by local businessman Pat Rowan, is only in its infancy stage, opening early last year. Despite this, Rowan has already made plans to expand his store, according to commercial laundry equipment distributor Western State Design (WSD).
Rowan opened the business to provide high-quality, reliable laundry service to a small community (population approximately 5,000) that had limited options.
Built on land of a former service station that Rowan already owned, The Station caters to the local Eastern Arizona College student population, the high volume of contractors coming in and out of surrounding mining towns, and residents of the nearby Apache reservation.
The business has enjoyed enough success that Rowan is expanding the store by adding more Dexter Express washers and dryers, as well as additional equipment dedicated to his fluff-and-fold and drycleaning services.
Rowan says that finding housing in Thatcher and neighboring Safford has always been a battle, and that most of the housing does not provide laundry facilities. With limited coin laundries serving the area, Rowan decided to build a new store.
He worked with Western State Design’s Scott Harrington to design and build the Laundromat. To begin, Harrington brought Rowan to another store that Harrington had designed in nearby Apache Junction. After talking with the owner of this laundry, Rowan embraced the idea of Dexter Express machines and the EasyCard™ payment system. The latter provides a coinless interface that enables greater control over pricing, specials and loyalty rewards, WSD says.
Rowan feels a special connection to serve college students at his Laundromat—he met his wife while both were students at Eastern Arizona College, and his daughter, Katie, who runs the day-to-day operations of The Station Laundromat, also attended this college. Rowan specifically installed counters around the glass windows of the building so that students could sit and work while they do their laundry. The business provides free Wi-Fi and Internet stations.
Looking back on building and opening The Station Laundromat, Rowan says there is little he would have done differently. But he acknowledges he would have started with more washers and dryers had he known how quickly the business would take off. He had planned for expansion but couldn’t have imagined needing to install more equipment in less than a year. Rowan has once again turned to Harrington for help in coordinating the next installation.
Rowan says he’s seen steady growth in his customer base for basic in-store laundry as well as drycleaning and fluff-and-fold services, all without doing much advertising.
What’s he planning after this expansion is complete? He maintained the old service building on the property next to the Laundromat and hopes to one day turn it into the “Station Café.”