The WSD team is fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many creative clients who have a singular vision about how their laundromats should look and function. We are proud that we can leverage our collective knowledge and experience to turn this vision into reality.
As a case in point, one of our laundry specialists, Rick Hall, recently worked with a client, David Swissa, who opened a distinctive combination laundromat-cafe in Everett, WA: Bims Laundry Cafe. Swissa knew exactly what he wanted from the outset. He wanted to create a warm and welcoming space that would not only provide an essential service but also function as a community gathering place. Hall and his team at WSD helped make this happen.
When you enter Bims Laundry Cafe, you’re struck by the attractive interior featuring modern decor and lighting, along with comfortable tables and chairs. You’re also greeted with the delicious smell of coffee and fresh baked falafel, making you feel like you’re in a trendy coffee shop/cafe.
But, the walls of gleaming commercial laundry equipment visible just beyond the front section of the store make it clear that this is no ordinary cafe. It’s also a state-of-the-art laundromat featuring brand new, high efficiency Dexter washers and dryers in a bright, open space.
This brainchild of Swissa’s didn’t pop into his head out of the blue. Some years ago, he ran a quirky neighborhood cafe on the upper west side of Manhattan which served as a local gathering spot. Eventually, he gave up the restaurant for a more lucrative career as a management consultant, but always retained fond memories of that life. His vision for a laundromat/cafe was also informed by his travels overseas in Copenhagen and Brussels where such establishments are common.
After a long, high powered, globe trotting career, Swissa decided it was time to slow down a bit and spend more time with his family closer to home. He wasn’t ready to retire yet so he cast about for appealing small business ideas that would generate a reliable income.
As he thought about perennially essential businesses, he quickly seized on the idea of opening a laundromat. After all, everyone needs clean laundry.
A New Approach to Doing Laundry
But as Swissa thought about it more, he had to acknowledge that he hates doing the laundry, and doesn’t like using laundromats. His experience with laundromats was that they’re unpleasant places: dark, dingy, and uninviting and nowhere anyone wants to spend much time.
That led to an aha moment: what about a laundromat that was completely different? What about an appealing destination where locals would want to hang out while doing their laundry? Doing the laundry wouldn’t be so bad, he reasoned, if you could spend the time in comfort sharing a cup of coffee with your neighbors.
The other key element of a laundromat is, of course, the laundry equipment. Swissa knew that he needed to equip his laundromat with top quality, high efficiency washers and dryers that would keep customers coming back over time. Not only would the laundry equipment have to be durable and reliable, it would have to be user-friendly.
Dexter Laundry: The Right Choice
Swissa did a lot of research, talking to all the commercial laundry equipment manufacturers. Dexter Laundry was the last one he talked to and the one that impressed him the most. For starters, he really appreciated the Dexter sales rep’s straightforwardness and candor. He was also struck by other stand out Dexter features:
- American-made equipment and employee-owned company
- Very sturdy machines
- Modern, timeless appearance of equipment
- DexterPay: Innovative technology that allows for different forms of payment — card and coin
Having made the decision to go with Dexter, Swissa connected with Rick Hall at Western State Design through the distributor referral section of Dexter’s website. He immediately felt very comfortable with Hall who spent a lot of time educating him about the retail laundry industry. Ultimately, Hall helped him with some key decisions, including the right mix of equipment for optimal customer flow.
The Dexter laundry equipment installed in Bims Laundry Cafe include the following:
- (4) Dexter T-350 20 lb. Express Washers
- (4) Dexter T-450 30 lb. Express Washers
- (5) Dexter T-650 40 lb. Express Washers
- (4) Dexter T-950 60 lb. Express Washers
- (2) Dexter T-1450 90 lb. Express Washers
- (7) Dexter T-30×2 Stack Dryers
- (5) Dexter T-50×2 Stack Dryers
- (2) OPL-310 Dry Lint Filter
Swissa had been a little hesitant about ordering the large capacity Dexter washers at first, but he’s glad he did. He says they’re the most used machines in his store:
“Single guys come into the laundromat and don’t want to be bothered sorting their laundry, so they’re happy dumping one big load into one of the big Dexter washers and getting it done all at once,” he observed.
Inevitably, this project hit a few bumps in the road on its way to completion. Swissa spent almost a year trying to find just the right space, in the right neighborhood. He finally found a location in a busy shopping center which includes popular businesses such as a drug store, a hardware store, and a 24-hour recreation center.
The biggest challenge was ill-fated timing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Swissa signed his lease in October and immediately started renovating the space, with a plan to open the store in early April. But when the pandemic hit the area in early March, his sub-contractors stopped coming to work and the renovation ground to a halt. In addition, many city workers were furloughed making it impossible to get permits and schedule inspections. So he had to wait.
Swissa says that it was eerily quiet during that period. The shopping center’s huge 300-parking space lot was largely empty and there were few people out and about.
Fast forward, Swissa finally opened the doors to Bims Laundry Cafe in mid-July—to popular local acclaim. Customers rave about the place both in person and in online reviews. They particularly like the brand new laundry equipment and the stellar customer service. Other high points include the ambience, amenities and cleanliness.
David Swissa is pleased with how the store turned out and says his regular customer base is growing quickly. He manages the store himself with help from family members, so there’s always someone on hand to address customers’ needs.
And that delicious falafel? He makes it himself from scratch using fresh, all natural ingredients. He’s proud to explain that his falafel is baked, not fried, which means it’s healthy and nutritious as well as delicious. If you’re in the area, check it out!
Bims Laundry Cafe
11014 19th Ave. SE, #19A
Everett, WA 98203
To learn how you can work with Western State Design to help get your laundromat business off to a good start, please contact one of our Laundry Specialists today.