PARKERSBURG - The owner of a new Laundromat in Parkersburg hopes his customers will have loads of fun while doing loads of clothes.
The Tornado Express Laundromat, at 1508 St. Marys Ave., opened this month and is already popular with people in the area, said owner Gary Traugh.
"Everyone has loved it," he said. "People have been really enthusiastic about it. We have done really good. A lot of people have been waiting for it."
Gary Traugh, owner of the new Tornado Express Laundromat on St. Marys Avenue, with one of the new nine-load washers featured at the business. (Photos by Brett Dunlap)
The project has been in the works for more than a year. Traugh was the owner of local Kom Pak convenience stores, which he sold to Go Mart last year. That deal gave him the money to build this Laundromat.
With the large Laundromat at Emerson Avenue and Rosemar Road closing, the area needed another large-scale Laundromat, Traugh said.
Traugh put in large capacity washers and dryers as well as a water heating system, the plumbing and electrical systems to support a Laundromat.
"We decided to put in a big new state-of-the-art Laundromat," he said. "It is one of the biggest Laundromats in the state."
He has invested more than $500,000 in the building and the equipment.
The building the Laundromat occupies was once a Kom Pak store. The building was expanded and renovated by Douglas Builders.
The building is more than 4,000 square feet with the Laundromat taking up 3,800 square feet on the interior.
The Laundromat features three nine-load machines, three six-load machines, six five-load machines, nine three-load machines, 10 two-load machines as well as 20 30-pound dryers, 10 50-pound dryers and four 80-pound dryers. Traugh credited Eddie Boyce with getting the machines in place.
Traugh is hoping the Laundromat will see a lot of commercial business from motels and veterinarian offices, anyone with large-scale laundry needs. He also wants to cater to individuals and families.
"Someone could come in here and do three months worth of laundry in one hour," Traugh said. "The machines are state-of-the-art.
"They use a lot less soap than normal. They have a super spin cycle. When the clothes come out of these washers, they are practically dry. It costs a lot less to dry them."
Sheena Groves of Parkersburg has been coming to the Laundromat regularly since it opened, even though she has a washer/dryer at home. She initially came to do large blankets, but now is doing the majority of her laundry there. She was able to do 25 loads of laundry recently in a short amount of time.
"It is awesome," she said. "It is very clean. The machines are very efficient. You hardly have any drying time. It is easier for me to come here and do it than it is to go into my basement."
Others welcomed the Laundromat and credited Traugh for investing in the neighborhood.
Traugh has been in the coin laundry business for 27 years with a couple of Laundromats in the area.
Laundromats have had a reputation of being for people in lower income areas, but Traugh counters that by saying with people's increasing need for convenience, a Laundromat offers a chance to do a lot of laundry quickly.
"Everyone does laundry and everyone has a need for Laundromats," he said. "You can come in here and do a month's load of laundry in the same amount of time you can do one load of laundry at home.
"It is actually cheaper to do it here because of the utility costs. A lot of people don't realize that."
On average, it costs between $1 and $2 per load of laundry at the Laundromat.
The nine-load machines are $8; the six-load machines are $5.75; the three-load machines are $3 and the two-load machines are $2.
The biggest washers need half-a-cup of soap.
"At home people use a whole cup of soap for one load," Traugh said. "Just think what you save on soap."
Traugh used to have a machine at one of his other Laundromats that spun clothes very fast and got a lot of the water out of them before going in the dryer. People used to call that machine, "The Tornado." He used it as an inspiration for his new Laundromat.
Many of the machines now have a similar function, which he said people are enjoying.
"It is fun to use the equipment," Traugh said. "It takes the boredom out of doing laundry.
"It's not loads of laundry; it is loads of fun."