CHICAGO — From the folding tables to the seating, today’s store owners are challenged with providing a comfortable yet durable environment for their self-service laundry guests. Chairs and tables made specifically for such surroundings are built tough, plus store designers can choose from a broad palette of colors and textures, according to some manufacturers of such furnishings.
But have laundry furnishings really changed much in the last five years?
“Yes, they have changed,” says Peter Valconesi, president of High Mark Manufacturing. His company makes heavy-duty steel seating units and commercial-grade laundry tables in hundreds of color options.
“The laundry investor of today has an interest in developing a modern, up-to-date store with furnishings that will not only last the test of time but will reflect the look of a modern laundry,” he says, “and not one of yesterday’s cheap-looking, just-get-by stores.”
Caco Mfg. has been making commercial-grade Solomatic® fiberglass and laminate folding tables, as well as custom bulkheads, for coin laundries since 1960.
“Yeah, it has (changed) in a design function,” Caco CEO Randall Chaffee says of today’s laundry furnishings. “Colors are really important nowadays. Some of these chains, where people are trying to build a brand around their one, two, three stores, they’re trying to go for themes and colors. Heck, we’ve even had guys who have hired interior decorators to absolutely color-match the whole store as an environment. That’s really prevalent right now.”
What about retail or home furnishing trends? Have they influenced the products that your company makes for coin laundries?
“They have not,” says Valconesi. “We are shooting for the commercial industrial look that goes right along with today’s washers and dryers. The home furnishing look is usually just that—a home furnishing. We want our product to fit in with the heavy-duty look of today’s store.”
“Laundromats, they’re getting bigger and more comfortable for the patrons,” Chaffee remarks. “We designed a line of children’s furniture, a line of homework station tables (with space for) tablets … those are killer popular right now.
“The attitude prior to this … was ‘Get in, get out as fast as you can and definitely leave the kids at home.’ That’s changing … kids want to come (to the laundry) now because there’s something for them to do.”
If you’re in the market for some seating and are thinking about going down to your local big box store to stock up, Chaffee and Valconesi suggest you rethink your decision.
“On a one-on-one, personal level, I would tell them flat out that that store is going to thank you every year, because you’re going to be back there buying it again,” Chaffee says.
“Without sounding like an old wise man, the old phrase is still alive: You get what you pay for,” says Valconesi. “If you purchase a mass-market chair or table now, you will have to replace it in a very short period of time. Not to mention that after spending a lot of money to build a beautiful store, you are going to top it off with a cheap furnishing with no or little color options.”