As you leisurely indulge yourself in a microbrew and a Panini, made with goat cheese from Portland Creamery, you receive a text message announcing your laundry is done. Glancing around the retro-mod lounge you just might have to remind yourself, “Oh right, I’m in a Laundromat.” Obviously this is not your typical college-town Laundromat – this is Spin Laundry Lounge.
Located in Portland, Oregon’s Historic Mississippi District, Spin Laundry Lounge encompasses everything owner and founder, Morgan Gary, originally had in mind when it came to putting her, well, unique spin on the laundry business. “My goal was to redefine the Laundromat,” explained Morgan. “And a big part of that was creating a community space that functions as more than just a place to wash and dry your clothes.”
Warm and inviting
Stepping inside the 5,000 square foot space, you can feel the warmth of Spin’s open and bright café environment inviting locals to stay awhile; take in a Blazer’s game on the high definition projector or check emails, thanks to free wifi, whether you’re doing laundry or not.
Spin’s café / bar menu boasts a selection of coffee, tea, beer and wine, pastries, small bites, and fresh salads – all made with ingredients sourced from local farms and companies. “We’ve also partnered with a local company called Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade,” shared Morgan. “Ground Kontrol provides Spin with a few arcade games.” Right now Spin customers can enjoy a timeless game of Ms. PacMan on the mezzanine level.
While the circa 1951 warehouse building where Spin is housed offers up an unhurried atmosphere and tons of character, such as the 1-ton Shepard overhead crane, customers will find there’s nothing slow-moving and vintage about Spin’s ultra energy-efficient and water-saving Electrolux Professional laundry equipment.
“In the end, sustainability was always my main focus,” shared Morgan. “From the Electrolux Professional washers and dryers, to the eco-friendly products and cleaners, right down to the local and organic food and drink in the café – Spin is as green as can be.”
A focus on sustainability and making an impact
Morgan always knew she wanted to make a lasting, positive impact on the environment and her community. She had been working in management for a while when she decided to head to business school. “I had always dreamed of starting my own
company,” said Morgan, “and the laundry business seemed like a perfect fit because typically it’s an industry where lots of water, energy and chemicals are being used.”
In 2012, she graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Business, and, what’s more, a comprehensive business plan. “My final project was a 100-plus page business plan on how to make my efficient and inviting interpretation of a Laundromat a reality,” said Morgan. “I studied trends, visited stores in the area, and read every book I could find about Laundromats and the laundry industry.”
She also kept a running list, jotting down every idea that could make her Laundromat distinctive and sustainable. “From wine tastings, to donating clothing (that was clean and folded) to area shelters, to using compostable to-go containers, to installing energy-efficient lighting – my list kept right on growing,” joked Morgan. “That’s when it really hit me that the laundry industry could greatly benefit from a new way of thinking.”
The dream takes off…
With her redefined Laundromat model firmly in place, Morgan now focused on connecting with the right laundry distributor – one who felt as strongly as she did about sustainability. She found such a partner in Lisa White, owner of Absolute Laundry Systems.
“Lisa, her husband, Scott, and the entire team at Absolute Laundry Systems are incredibly knowledgeable about creating stores built on sustainable business practices,” explained Morgan. “Lisa helped me with everything – lease negotiations, design and layout of the mat, construction, training, even finding the ideal location.”
After a year of searching high and low for the right building and neighborhood for her brand new Laundromat, Morgan fell in love with the “amazing old warehouse building” that Spin now calls home. “It was perfect!” exclaimed Morgan. “In addition to the parking lot, the space offered up plenty of on-the-street parking – and was surrounded by like-minded green businesses.”
It was also close to busy downtown Portland, college campuses, and many older and newer efficient / LEED certified apartment buildings. The renovation from warehouse to Spin Laundry Lounge took approximately four and a half months. “From day one, Lisa and Scott were invested in my business; they cared and wanted me to succeed,” shared Morgan. “Even after our doors opened, their expertise and support continues to be invaluable. What I appreciate most about them is that they really listened to what I wanted my Laundromat to be.”
And the number one way to create a distinctive and sustainable laundry…
Remember Morgan’s extensive laundry list of cool features and sustainable items? Well, topping her list was having “the most energy efficient laundry equipment in the world.”
“That would be the Electrolux Professional 450 G-force soft-mount washers,” said Morgan. “It has a unique feature called Automatic Water Savings (AWS) that automatically adds the correct amount of water to match the load size, which is incredible. The water saving is up to 30 percent!” 450 G-force extraction removes more water, which in turn saves time and energy in the dryer.
The speed of the cycles was also very important to Morgan – and her customers. “Most of our customers are shocked and excited to find out they can complete up to eight loads of laundry in one washer and dryer in as little as 45 minutes.” Plus, Morgan is mighty pleased that she’s able to save on utility costs and pass on those savings to her customers.
Spin – A New Way to Laundry
Ever since opening its doors in March, the community response to Spin has been overwhelmingly positive. “Customers love the complimentary sanitizing rinse, and all of our Nellie’s All Natural Laundry products,” shared Morgan. “And that they can get all of their laundry finished – washed and dried – in only 45 minutes. They also enjoy the atmosphere and the fact that they can order a coffee (or beer!) while they wait.”
Perhaps one of the biggest satisfactions for Morgan is being involved in the daily operations of her store. “I wanted to change people’s perception that ‘laundry day’ had to be this monumental time-consuming chore,” said Morgan. “Looking around at my customer’s faces, I can honestly say that I’ve absolutely changed their laundry experience for the better. And that feels great. Mission accomplished.”
“Electrolux professional equipment helped turn my vision into a reality. Our customers are able to save time and money, reduce their carbon footprint, and enjoy every minute of the redefined Laundromat experience.”