Store Profile: Lemon Laundry – Queens, NY
Any other first-time laundry owner might be uneasy about opening a store surrounded by its rivals, including one located directly across the street. But instead of focusing on the competition, Lemon Laundry owners, Mandy and Don Situ, focused on the opportunity – to create a store that would make people think differently about laundromats and doing their laundry.
“We wanted Lemon Laundry to transform the very character of the laundry business,” enthused Don. “When you think of a ‘typical’ laundromat you probably envision an unenthusiastic environment with a shoddy paint job and tired old machines. Lemon Laundry isn’t typical. It’s more like a favorite neighborhood hangout outfitted with top-of-the-line Electrolux Professional washers and dryers.”
With its floor-to-ceiling storefront windows, dark hardware, and vintage decor, Lemon Laundry offers a curb appeal that reads more like a trendy café rather than laundromat.
Upon entering the 2,500-square foot store, located in the growing and vibrant community of Woodside, Queens, customers are greeted with warmth, contemporary charm, and even a touch of the unexpected.
“Mandy and I wanted Lemon Laundry to be bright, colorful, and have an industrial feel to it,” shared Don. “We used a lot of salvaged material such as reclaimed wood and saved steel, and we’re fairly certain there aren’t many laundromats that can say it features an antique fireplace.”
Thoughtful touches throughout
Accenting walls feature a pop of lemony yellow color or faux painting technique replicating aged ceramic tiles. The newly built store boasts thoughtful touches throughout, including fresh flowers, pleasing lighting, spotless facilities, Wi-Fi, large-screen televisions; and a library inspired waiting area with a large table, inviting patrons to spread out and stay for a while.
All of this attention to detail further adds to the cool factor and relaxed feel of the space. “Mandy and I wanted the overall vibe of Lemon Laundry to match a stylish yet casual décor, letting our customers know that this is a space they could enjoy while crossing off ‘wash clothes’ on their to-do list,” said Don.
When it came to the look and actual buildout of the store, the couple relied heavily on Don’s expertise as an architectural designer, and owner of Metro Projects Construction, Inc. “I’ve been designing and constructing laundromats for others for many years,” said Don, “so I’m no stranger to the business. I actually met my laundry distributor, Bob Jung, 10 years ago when I first began doing Laundromat design. Bob was the one who finally talked me into opening my own laundromat.”
Bob Jung was also the one who introduced Don to the Electrolux Professional brand. Don recalled the first time he went to the Electrolux warehouse, “I felt like a kid in a chocolate factory. Seeing and learning about Electrolux’s washers and dryers left me with a very strong, very positive long-lasting impression of the brand.”
That’s why Electrolux was Don’s first and only equipment choice for Lemon Laundry.
The Electrolux brand – the first and only choice
The store has 26 beautifully appointed Electrolux Professional 200 G-force washers and 24 Electrolux Professional dryers. The combination of having Electrolux washers and dryers gives customers excellent laundry results, all while saving time and money – for both the customer and store owner.
“A load of laundry comes out of the washing machine noticeably drier, thanks to the high-speed water extraction of the Electrolux washer,” said Don. “Then it goes into the Electrolux Professional dryer and our customers are done with their laundry in no time. I like that they are happy with the results and I like the savings I see on my water and utility bills.”
Don also likes that Electrolux has his back. “The equipment training as well as the responsiveness of their customer service team is incredibly important me,” shared Don. “If something comes up, I know I can rely on them. I highly recommend Electrolux Professional.”
More indispensable partnerships
Mandy and Don may have depended on Don’s construction know-how during the build. Yet after Lemon Laundry opened its doors in April 2017, Don is the first one to admit that Mandy is the one that “makes it happen.”
“Most of the credit needs to go to my wife,” shared Don. “I did the build and was pretty much done with the daily store operations after the first month. Mandy is the one at the helm every day, growing the business and the spirit of our vision. I couldn’t be any prouder.”
Don also feels fortunate Lemon Laundry has a reliable staff that actually came with the recommendation of another Laundromat located three blocks away. “We were incredibly lucky to find them,” said Don. “That laundry was changing the way it did business, relying more on the two owners than an outside staff. The addition of our Lemon Laundry team members have been amazing. They are exceptional at what they do, and, because of their work ethic and helpful demeanor – customers have followed them to our store.”
Being different is paying off
On opening day, Lemon Laundry made $52. Yet by the month’s end, it made well over $10,000 and has been enjoying steady growth ever since. The store averages three new customers every day and the owners recently invested in a van to handle the growing demand of laundry pick-up. “There lots of young families in the neighborhood without in-home washers and dryers,” observed Don. “There are also a lot of Laundromat choices; within a 10-block radius, you’ll find 10 Laundromats. But they can’t compare to Lemon Laundry.”
In addition to the glowing reviews by word of mouth, flyers have been making a vital impact in the densely populated community, bringing in continuous customer acquisition to Lemon Laundry.
“There is simply no comparison between our store and the others – even if you’re looking solely at equipment performance,” explained Don. “Our customers love that the Electrolux dryers dry very fast, and clothes come out drier from the washers to begin with. They value being able to get in and out fast.”
Lemon Laundry tests the market with spectacular results
Mandy and Don have always thought about Lemon Laundry as their test business. “Going into the laundry business, Mandy and I focused on creating something special rather than just ‘opening a Laundromat.’”
The couple wanted customers to come and enjoy what they had to offer; they wanted them to feel welcome as if they were coming into their home, not a place of business. “I do believe we have and continue to accomplish this each day,’ said Don. “My advice to others getting into the business is to focus on building your brand and respecting what the customer has to say.”
Don explained their business philosophy this way:
“If you’re in the street-corner coffee cart business – be the Starbucks. Meaning look to be different. Most of the laundries in our area are older, the outdated machines suck up time and money, and just aren’t pleasant to spend time in. So, it didn’t matter how many competitors we had, it mattered that we were different. From our Electrolux equipment, to our beautiful space, to our attentive customer service – these are the keys to our success.”