Hollywood's New Laundrywood is ‘CLEAN. GREEN. EXPRESS.’
July 2014 | Download PDF
Gary Thompson has a knack for turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse. He recently debuted his second high-speed laundry under the “Clean. Green. Express.” tagline. Flaunting custom wall art and situated in the heart of Los Angeles, Laundrywood is a card-operated eco-focused store occupying a renovated early 20th Century building. Just minutes from Hollywood and Paramount Studios, it is now the model child of economic revitalization in an up-and-coming part of town. The 8,000-square-foot megastore touts a 60-minute wash and dry and full-service wash/dry/fold, among an array of other amenities.
City Embraces Store Development
But, the transformation didn’t come easy. Van Merrill, of Continental Girbau West, a laundry equipment distributor in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., worked with Thompson on the project.
The dilapidated building underwent an extensive overhaul that involved leaping several hurdles. The old structure lacked proper electrical wiring, its foundation was multiple levels, and it sat on a rundown street lined with abandoned vehicles.
Pulling together Thompson’s vision of “Clean. Green. Express.” required assistance from the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, which worked to clean up parking, clear out abandoned cars and secure power to the building. The Mayor’s Office also facilitated more than $60,000 in economic assistance to the project. “The grant was awarded because Laundrywood not only improves the vitality of the area, it offers energy- and water-efficient Continental ExpressWash® Washers,” said Merrill. “The Mayor’s Office was impressed with Gary’s first store, Fair Oaks Laundry, in Pasadena, and wanted something similar to spur an economic rebirth in this part of town,” he added.
Located to Capture an Array of Business
Laundrywood was worth the effort. Thompson knew its location — in a transition area between Hollywood, Paramount Studios and a dense rental district — was a potential home run.
“Laundrywood is surrounded by a diverse demographic of 100,000 people within a mile radius,” he said. “There is tremendous self-service and full-service business potential.”
The laundry fits nicely into its neighborhood, which is thick with street art. Embracing this culture, Thompson hired a known street artist to paint the exterior of Laundrywood, as well as an adjacent alley. “The idea was to create credibility by using this artist, so other people would not paint over what’s already there,” he said.
Moreover, the area around the laundry is growing and improving. “Not very far up the street are brand new apartments, condos and a new restaurant,” said Thompson.
Thoughtfully designed to draw a variety of customers, Laundrywood offers craved amenities, services and equipment. It caters to professionals interested in dropping laundry off for wash/dry/fold, as well as families and singles looking to complete laundry in 60 minutes or less.
Equipping the Laundry
The card-operated store features Continental Girbau (Continental) laundry equipment, including nine 75-pound capacity PowerLoad Washers; 30 20-pound capacity ExpressWash Washers, which are Energy Star qualified; 24 40-pound capacity ExpressWash Washers; and a team of complementing ExpressDry Dryers. “Gary’s vision is a laundry that’s respectful of ecology and furnished so his customers can get a really quick wash and dry in a very clean and customer-friendly place,” said Merrill.
ExpressWash Washers Deliver 60-Minute Wash/Dry
Critical to that goal are Laundrywood’s 54 ExpressWash Washers. Freestanding for simple installation, they are highly efficient, programmable, and reach extract speeds of up to 354 G-force. They outperform typical hard-mount washers, which only reach extract speeds of approximately 75-200 G-force, according to Thompson. “The ExpressWash Washers make it possible to wash and dry laundry in less than 60 minutes by removing more water and moisture during extract,” said Thompson. Items dry more quickly, which improves customer turnover and reduces natural gas consumption. “Once customers realize that their laundry comes out nearly dry — and they can complete laundry in under an hour — that sinks in and they discover the advantages of ‘Clean. Green. Express.’”
Improved Customer Turnover
Thompson maintains Laundrywood’s quick wash/dry and customer turnover helps the store’s parking situation, as well. “Because we can turn people so quickly, we can rotate our small parking lot quickly,” he said. “The ExpressWash Washers are so fast, we can do more turns per day using less energy and water.”
Energy Efficiency and Lower Utilities
Keeping with his “green” promise, Thompson’s laundry has no top-load washers. The typical topload, he maintains, chugs 20-30 gallons of water per load (more than 2.5 gallons of water per pound of laundry), while a 20-pound capacity ExpressWash Washer sips just 13.4 gallons of water per load (.7 gallons of water per pound of laundry). Over time, the gallons saved help quench Southern California’s relentless thirst for water.
All told, Laundrywood’s utility costs make up just 16 percent of total gross revenue — 10 percent lower than the national average reported by a recent Coin Laundry Association Industry Survey. Thompson, as a result, enjoys significantly lower operating costs for heightened profits.
Boosting revenue further are Laundrywood’s nine PowerLoad Washers — coveted by customers who clean bulky items, like comforters, blankets, sleeping bags and rugs, as well as family sized loads of laundry. With a line of nine at the front entrance, Laundrywood delivers a large-capacity wow factor!
Marketing and Management
A successful laundry owner already, Thompson markets and manages his second store much like his first. The Card Concepts Inc. card system accepts credit and debit cards and interfaces seamlessly with Continental laundry equipment. It’s simple to tweak programs for additional energy or water savings, as well as for marketing purposes. The computer interface allows him to program machines through the card system and view washer operation statistics remotely from a computer, tablet or cell phone, via the Internet. At the moment, Thompson rewards customers with a free dry.
“As customers use the washers, they earn dryer credits toward a free dry,” said Merrill. “Big washers offer more credits toward a free dry, than small washers.” All specials are also advertised on door hangers and at www.cleangreenexpress.com — helping draw new clients.
Packed with Amenities
Like its equipment, Laundrywood offers amenities and services to meet a variety of needs and wants — all to draw and retain customers. Customers enjoy massage chairs, large flat-screen TVs, a touch-tunes jukebox, video games and a large kids’ play area complete with a big-screen TV running the Cartoon Network. “We kept everything shiny and fun in the back of the store,” said Thompson. “In the front of the store there’s a granite WIFI counter with charging stations for laptops, tablets and phones. We tried to make it a destination — a place to do laundry, have fun, chat and hang out.”
Wash/dry/fold, drop-off drycleaning and commercial laundry services, which round out Laundrywood’s offerings, allow the business to cultivate additional revenue streams. “We’re going after professionals, spas, nail salons, multi-store chains and small hotels,” says Thompson. “Laundrywood is still new and we are working to build our commercial customer base, but I’m hopeful that wash/dry/fold will grow to make up 30-35 percent of gross revenue.”
Soon, Thompson plans to launch a concierge laundry service, as well. “We’ll do all of it online,” he said. “Our drivers will pick up and deliver door-to-door.”
Drawing from a melting pot demographic, Laundrywood has enjoyed significant business growth since opening in December 2013.