Doing laundry is a reality faced by just about everyone. A new business at 100 S. 12th St. was created to make that easier and more convenient for anyone who lives, works or shops in or near downtown Fort Dodge. Janine and Jeremy Mouw, of Webster City, opened The Washboard Laundromat on Oct. 30, 2012.
The enterprise occupies a 2,100-square-foot building that has long been part of the commercial landscape on 12th Street. The interior was transformed to make it a suitable venue for a state-of-the art laundromat.
"It was Alice's Tax Service. It was a gas station years before that," Jeremy Mouw said. "We gutted the interior and did a good revamp on it."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jeremy Mouw poses in front of machines at The Washboard Laundromat, 100 S. 12th St. He and wife Janine Mouw opened the business last October; they also own a laundromat in Webster City.
What has emerged is facility that offers customers an array of laundry options 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We've got six different sizes of washers," Mouw said, noting that most are front-loaders. "We do have a few of the top-load washers as well as everything from a double-load washer on up to the largest one is around eight loads. We've got three different size dryers. ... There are triple-load dryers and we also have some five-load stacks and a couple of the large eight-load dryers. ... The equipment that we offer is unique."
Mouw said the extensive choice in machine sizes sets The Washboard apart from the competition as does the quality of the equipment.
"They are high-efficiency machines, all new Dexter equipment," he said. "The top-loaders are Whirlpools."
Mouw said in all there are 25 washers and 24 dryers. All are coin-operated. Most of the units take both quarters and dollar coins.
"We have a change machine," he said. "One side spits out quarters and the other side spits out the dollar coins."
The establishment is outfitted with just about anything someone ready to do laundry might require.
"We've got a 12-column soap dispenser that's got six different kinds of soap and a couple different kinds of softener and two different sizes of laundry bags also," Mouw said. "We have snack, pop, candy vending as well."
Additionally, there are multiple areas for folding clothing located throughout the building and plenty of space so customers need not feel crowded even when many machines are in use.
"We've got a good layout in here," Mouw said. "A lot of laundromats, you end up tripping over each other to get to the next machine. Here we've got flow all around the place so that you are not running into people trying to get where you need to go."
The Washboard also features an automatic door so people can enter or leave with ease even when carrying a huge basket of clothes. Parking is ample.
"Lots of off-street parking," Mouw said. "We've got plenty of parking for everybody."
He said customers have responded positively to what The Washboard provides.
"The biggest thing everybody likes is the cleanliness and the fact that everything works and we have a lot of choices," Mouw said.
Convenience and options are major selling points at The Washboard Laundromat. So too is safety.
"We've got a state-of-the-art security system," Mouw said. "We've got cameras and we've got a monitor where people know they are being watched while they are in here. So, everybody should feel safe with that. And we're on a busy road, busy intersection, a lot of traffic coming through."
The Mouws have owned a laundromat in Webster City for six years. Jeremy Mouw said the expansion to Fort Dodge was motivated in part by the economic boom both the town and county are experiencing.
He said he is enthusiastic about the commercial rebirth taking place in all of downtown Fort Dodge and in particular in the 12th Street area.
"It has been wonderful," Mouw said, reflecting on the first few months in operation locally. "We've gotten a lot of downtown traffic here. A lot of walkers. There really wasn't anything close enough within walking distance for a lot of these folks. We've had tremendous success with it so far. ... We've got a lot of repeat customers already."
He said the proximity to Fareway has also proved to be an advantage.
Looking to the future, Mouw said he hopes to have an attendant on-site more of the time and possibly introduce wash, dry and fold as a service for both private and commercial clients.
Also on the horizon is an upgrade of the exterior of the building once the weather permits that work to progress.