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Want to make money? Start a laundromat

November 14, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
Here's a money making opportunity: build a laundromat and watch the coins pour into your hands like a payout at a casino slot machine. Judging by the crowd at the laundromats in Minot, there are nowhere near enough machines in the city limits.

It's one more problem that goes along with our ongoing housing crisis, the continuing effects of this summer's flood and an oil boom that won't quit and keeps bringing more and more people to a town where there's nowhere for them to live.

Laundromats are never much fun under any circumstances. A Facebook friend of mine compares the experience to a slightly twisted take on the American dream, washing and folding one's personal items in the full view of strangers. I pointed out that at least she does not have to go to a laundromat in Minot and I think she has to concede the point.

On Sunday night every spot in the parking lot at the laundromat I frequent was filled, meaning I had to drag baskets and a heavy comforter across several feet into a building so packed there was standing room only. I was at the laundromat to avoid fighting over the single machine in my apartment complex with the two dozen or so other residents. Theoretically, at least, a laundromat means I can wash several loads of clothes at once and be in and out in an hour.

So much for that plan. Every washing machine and dryer was in operation. There's an art to getting a washer under those conditions and it requires fast reflexes and a mean streak. I stood guard by one that had a few minutes left on the timer and started cramming clothing into it as soon as the owner showed up to take the clothing out. If he hadn't arrived instantly to remove his wet clothing, I would have taken it out myself and piled it in his laundry basket, which is not really proper laundromat etiquette.

There were three or four groups of young men milling around, reeking of oil from the oil fields, jabbering in Spanish too rapid for me to comprehend. Now and again I picked up a word or two I understood. Whatever they were talking about seemed to be funny. Two separate football games were blasting on the overhead TVs. Three of the men were still young enough to entertain themselves with the pinball machine in the corner. It was loud. Badly behaved children were racing through the aisles, commandeering laundry carts and ignoring their mother's orders for them to stop and sit down.

I am getting too old for this, but there were people there several decades older than I, which is a particularly depressing thought.

So, budding entrepreneurs, my hint to you is a laundromat or two. In this city, I don't think it can possibly fail.

 
 

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