PlanetLaundry and Supplements Northeast Supplement Spring 2017 : Page 1
Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE BY STEVEN GOULD Spring 2017 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org Working ‘Around the Clock’ Pennsylvania Entrepreneur Celebrates 25 Years in the Laundry Business Melissa Kuskin has spent most of her business life serving the public. Before entering the self-service laundry industry, she spent 30 years owning and operating public storage garages. In fact, at one point Kuskin owned 150 properties. However, the big problem, she explained, was the constant struggle to secure rent payments. “It got to the point where I was more in the flea market business, because people would leave stuff behind and not think twice about it,” she said. Kuskin finally decided that there had to a better way to make a living, so she began to look at other options – and a laundromat seemed to be a rather attractive possibility. A major factor that attracted Melissa to the laundry business was the method of payment. continued on page 3 ADVERTISERS AC Power, Back Cover | Aristo Craft, 17 | Coin Laundry Insurance, 14 | Coin Laundry Association 17 | Continental Girbau, Inside Front Cover CSC Service Works, 11 | Equipment Marketers, 13 | Gauch Distributing Inc, 13 | Gold Coin Laundry Equipment, 07 | HK Laundry Equipment, 09 Metropolitan Laundry Machinery Company, Inc, 12 | Northeast Laundry Equipment, 19 | Setomatic, 15 | Summit Laundry Equipment, 05 Yankee Equipment Systems, Inc, 06
Working ‘Around the Clock’
Pennsylvania Entrepreneur Celebrates 25 Years in the Laundry Business
Melissa Kuskin has spent most of her business life serving the public. Before entering the self-service laundry industry, she spent 30 years owning and operating public storage garages.
In fact, at one point Kuskin owned 150 properties. However, the big problem, she explained, was the constant struggle to secure rent payments.
“It got to the point where I was more in the flea market business, because people would leave stuff behind and not think twice about it,” she said.
Kuskin finally decided that there had to a better way to make a living, so she began to look at other options – and a laundromat seemed to be a rather attractive possibility.
A major factor that attracted Melissa to the laundry business was the method of payment.
“One of the main reasons I chose the laundry business was the fact that you get paid up front,” she explained. “For people to use your equipment, you are going to get paid on the front end of it. I also thought it would be a fairly easy business, compared to what I had been doing.”
Melissa built her first store about 25 years ago and owned it for 15 years. She then purchased her current location – the 2,400- square-foot Around the Clock Laundry, based in Harrisburg, Pa. In addition, she owns another laundry in the area.
“With my very first laundry, I bought an apartment building and put in the laundromat on the first floor,” she said. “It had a storefront, so I put the laundry on the first floor and gutted the two apartments above it. I liked it because it was in the city. It was centrally located and within walking distance for a lot of people – at least that's what I thought. However, this turned out to be a mistake.
“The only people who came were those who could walk there. There was no parking, so I couldn’t really make a lot of money.”
Beyond that, Melissa explained that there really weren’t any surprises with that first store, since everything about the laundry business was new to her. If there were any snags, she said it was the fact that she handled the buildout backwards.
“I gutted the building and did the apartments first, and then the laundromat,” she noted. “I should have done it the other way around and built the laundromat first, so I could start getting revenue from it while the apartments were being finished.”
Although Melissa owned the property for her first laundry, the current stores are leased. Around the Clock Laundry is located in a strip mall, and it’s actually Kuskin’s second spot in that building.
“I bought an existing store, which was about 1,000 square feet,” she said. “I bought it from a gentleman who was retiring. I spent one year in that location, and the business was just booming – over-the-top booming. I saw huge potential in moving out of that small facility. I really needed to get out of that spot to grow.
“In the strip mall, there was a bookstore at the end of the building. The owners of the bookstore were moving out and the space was more than twice the size of mine. So, I approached the landlord about that spot – and, fortunately, I was able to move my laundromat from the smaller space in the center of the mall to the larger endcap.”
Melissa kept the smaller storefront running, while she built out the new store. In addition, she chose not to move any of the older equipment, deciding instead to re-equip the larger space with new washers and dryers.
“Floor to ceiling and all the equipment, everything was brand new,” she noted. “One day, I was in this old, skinny little space, and the next day I put up a sign that said, ‘Come on Down to the End of the Mall!’ The whole project took about four months – and the new, modern Around the Clock Laundry was ready to go.”
The area surrounding Around the Clock consists mainly of single-family homes with a scattering of apartment buildings and is quite diverse ethnically, as well as economically – running the gamut from low income to middle and upper middle class.
“Since I'm located in the strip mall, I get a lot of new customers,” Melissa said. The strip center also includes a drycleaner, a pizzeria, an auto repair business, a candle shop and a hair salon.
Although relying heavily on positive word-of-mouth recommendations, she pointed out that she runs a couple of popular weekly specials – every Tuesday and Wednesday her 20-pound washers at available at a discount, down to $2.25 from their normal $2.75 vend price.
Melissa also attracts customers to her business and sets Around the Clock apart from the other laundries in the area by running an extremely clean and well-maintained store. In addition, she is in her laundromat every day; and for those times when she isn’t, her phone number is posted on the wall.
Around the Clock Laundry is just that – a self-service laundry business that’s open 24/7; while Melissa’s other store runs from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Neither location offers wash-dry-fold services or caters to commercial accounts. Both stores are unattended – except for the owner, who goes back and forth between the two laundry businesses.
“I like hearing when customers say that they come here because it’s so clean,” Melissa said. “My strength is maintaining what I have every day. And thanking my customers. There isn’t a customer who walks out of here who I don’t thank for their business. Whatever they need, I am here for them. If they don’t have laundry bags or if they’re short a few quarters, I will take care of them.”
After all, what’s a couple of quarters or a laundry bag when it comes to a good customer?
Steven Gould is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.
Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/Business+Profile/2715977/385558/article.html.