published Friday, May 25th, 2012

SmallBiz: New Fort Oglethorpe coin laundry aims to be unique, cheerful

Jeff Musall puts wet clothes into a dryer at Wash Daze laundromat in Fort Oglethorpe.  The laundromat, which opened in January, is owned by Jerry Cooper and features state-of-the-art washers and dryers, televisions, wi-fi, and a children's area.
Jeff Musall puts wet clothes into a dryer at Wash Daze laundromat in Fort Oglethorpe. The laundromat, which opened in January, is owned by Jerry Cooper and features state-of-the-art washers and dryers, televisions, wi-fi, and a children's area.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

• Name: Wash Daze Coin Laundry

• Location: 1868 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe

• Contact information: WashDaze.com

• Hours: Open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight. Owner Jerry Cooper said his machines get particularly busy on Sunday, business is steady throughout the week and slower on Saturdays.

• Products/services: Wash Daze provides 18 washers, the largest of which are able to handle up to 60 pounds, and 18 dryers, some with up to 45-pound capacities. The space also has vending machines for laundry supplies, food and drinks.

• Age: Opened Jan. 9

• Startup investment: $250,000

• Unusual features: With a bright yellow and blue color scheme, Wash Daze instantly sets itself apart from the typical coin laundry business, its owner says. The business has free Wi-Fi Internet access, a children's area with toys and a television, 24-hour security cameras and automatic doors. "We want to be a little different," Cooper said. "We want to stand out a little."

• Why coin laundry? Cooper has operated vending machines since 1986 and started running his own vending business full time seven years ago. A coin-operated laundry seemed a natural extension of his established business. "It blended pretty well," he said.

• Biggest challenge: Finding the right location. Cooper and his wife looked at several spots in the Chattanooga area and studied coin laundries in the region to see what made one successful. They finally settled on their spot in the Big Lots plaza because of its strong anchor stores and high traffic count. Between 22,000 and 24,000 drivers from a wide range of income demographics pass the plaza each day, he said.

• Five-year goal: Cooper hopes to have three laundries in the area by 2017. The businesses take a lot of work to open, but don't require full-time labor once they're up and running. "I look at this as retirement," Cooper said.

• Lesson learned: Find ways to save money with do-it-yourself projects. Cooper did most all of the interior remodeling on his own, shaving tens of thousands of dollars off the startup cost.

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