PlanetLaundry and Supplements Southeast Supplement Fall 2013 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE S TEV EN G OU L D Fall 2013 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org Nothing Fishy Going on Here Entrepreneurial Couple Turns Former Aquarium Store into a Thriving Self-Service Laundry Business Caron and Greg Sowers are the proud owners of Spintastic – a large, vibrant, card-operated self-service laundry in Charlotte, N.C. The facility is 5,400 square feet, with 97 machines of various capacities. There is never any waiting for a machine – and, if you are in a hurry, you can get your laundry done “in four minutes,” by taking advantage of the store’s drop-off service. The laundry owners both have professional backgrounds. “I’m an electrical engineer, and my husband is a CPA, which definitely is an advantage when it comes to doing the books,” Sowers noted. This is not their first foray into the retail world, and they seem to enjoy being involved with water. “My husband used to own an aquarium and fish store,” Sowers said. “It was actually at the site where the laundry is now. When we built the laundry, we tripled the size of our space in the building. We still had two years on the lease, and we had to do something with it.” ADVERTISERS Coin Laundry Insurance | 05 LaundryPro | 05 Pierce Commercial Laundry Distributors | 09 SE Laundry Equipment Sales | Inside Front Cover Texas Laundry Service Company | 07 Wascomat | Back Cover Worldwide Laundry | 06 continued on page 3

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould


Nothing Fishy Going on Here

Entrepreneurial Couple Turns Former Aquarium Store into a Thriving Self-Service Laundry Business

Caron and Greg Sowers are the proud owners of Spintastic – a large, vibrant, card-operated self-service laundry in Charlotte, N.C.

The facility is 5,400 square feet, with 97 machines of various capacities. There is never any waiting for a machine – and, if you are in a hurry, you can get your laundry done “in four minutes,” by taking advantage of the store’s drop-off service.

The laundry owners both have professional backgrounds.

“I’m an electrical engineer, and my husband is a CPA, which definitely is an advantage when it comes to doing the books,” Sowers noted.

This is not their first foray into the retail world, and they seem to enjoy being involved with water.

“My husband used to own an aquarium and fish store,” Sowers said. “It was actually at the site where the laundry is now. When we built the laundry, we tripled the size of our space in the building. We still had two years on the lease, and we had to do something with it.”

At first, they tried to lease the building, but the only real interest they got was from someone wanting to open a bar.

“That wasn’t going to work because it was too close to a residential area and that wasn’t allowed,” Sowers explained. “It sat vacant for a while, and then a man came in and was talking about putting in a laundry. We said he could lease it and put it in – and he responded, ‘Oh, no, I’m going to sell you the equipment to put in a laundry.’”

So, the couple discussed the proposition and thought it sounded interesting.

“We realized we wouldn’t need a lot of employees,” Sowers said.

She added that they both liked the fact that a laundry’s customers actually do most of the work. Plus, a self-service laundry seemed to have a good profit potential.

After deciding to open a laundry, the Sowers got busy turning their former fish store into a laundry business. Since the interior was now a fairly empty shell, they tackled all of the build-out themselves, from the floors to the plumbing.

The entire process took six months and cost the couple approximately $800,000. However, in April 2006, Spintastic finally opened its doors.

The store is located near a good mix of neighborhoods. There are apartment complexes nearby, as well as many older single-family homes. The area ranges from lower income housing to upper middle class. And there is quite a bit of new construction going on in nearby towns, which has changed the demographics a bit.

Spintastic is located in a stand-alone building, so the owners don’t share walls with any neighbors. The laundry also is in a mixed-use area, surrounded by various service companies and even a bowling alley.

In addition, the marketplace boasts 10 other self-service laundries and drycleaning businesses, according to Sowers. To be sure they capture their fair share of the market, the Sowers promote Spintastic through its own website, along with a listing at YellowPages.com and by utilizing various other online avenues. The couple also has used flyers, local area advertising and even some radio spots to promote the business.

Being a bigger store, Spintastic can offer a large number of washers and dryers in various sizes, and the aisles are overly wide so that the laundry never feels too congested. And, to be sure their customers are comfortable and entertained, the Sowers have installed five 42-inch high-definition televisions, as well as a free WiFi and a children’s play area. In addition, the store features a variety of video games, as well as a pool table and a foosball game.

Spintastic is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the weekends. The Sowers employ four laundry attendants – one full-time manager and three part-timer staffers.

The store also offers a wash-dry-fold service, which goes for 95 cents per pound with a 10-pound minimum.

And, although Caron and Greg aren’t actively seeking out a second laundry location at the moment, additional stores are definitely something they would pursue in the future, Caron admitted.

After all, a self-service laundry is much less labor intensive than most other retail businesses – and, unlike with a tropical fish store, you don’t have to worry about coming into work in the morning just to find your big money-makers floating on top of the water.

Steven Gould is a freelance business writer based in the Chicago area.

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1485892/172446/article.html.

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