When Longview residents Rick and Martha Morrison first started setting up their new laundromat, the scent of waffle cones lingered from the days when the space housed Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt.
Now their spot at 1208 Washington Way smells like fresh bread from Jimmy John’s next door.
“It’s so inviting,” Martha Morrison said as she bustled around Twin City Laundry the afternoon before its opening on April 14.
The Morrisons said they planned for six years and moved halfway across the country to open their new laundromat in Longview. Originally from Houston, the pair said they wanted to retire in the Pacific Northwest.
“Longview found us. We fell in love with Lake Sacajawea,” said Martha Morrison, 63. “It’s the perfect place to open our vision of a nice, respectful, customer-friendly laundromat.”
She finished her last day as a grade school teacher in May 2017 and the pair moved to Longview the next month. Her husband had retired from the transportation industry the year prior.
They said they chose a spot that could serve the greatest number of homeowners, renters and families. “I don’t want anyone to come in here and feel like there is a social difference among customers,” she said.
The Morrisons said the investment into their new business was large but declined to be specific. It’s not just a casual retirement project; the Morrisons said they need to do well.
Rick Morrison described their design as refreshing, welcoming, bright and upbeat. The 2,200 square-foot corner lot has bright blue and orange walls, two large-screen TVs, counters for folding laundry and rows of 27 washers and 28 dryers which range in maximum load sizes from 20 pounds to 80 pounds.
The prices start at $2.75 for a 20-pound load washed in cold water. Then it goes up by 25 cents for changes in size and water temperature. Customers can use quarters, swipe a credit card or use a smartphone pay app. The machines require no more than a quarter-cup of detergent for any size load.
“This is the newest and latest available in washing and drying technology,” said Rick Morrison, who is nearly 70.
The laundromat also has free WiFi, a snack machine, a bathroom for paying customers, a children’s play corner and sliding glass doors for customers toting large loads.
Comments on social media have expressed concern about security. The Morrisons responded that the laundromat will have secure locks, heavy-duty doors and 11 security cameras. They said they will try to handle homeless people with compassion, but they said they’ll politely ask noncustomers to leave.
“The (image) of laundromats across the country is that they are dirty, dimly lit and dangerous,” Rick Morrison said. “We want to blow all of that out of the water.”
Twin City Laundry also offers “wash, dry and fold” services for customers to drop off their load of laundry and pick it up again when it’s done. The service, which is available to residential and commercial customers, costs $1.25 a pound, with a 10 pound minimum.
In addition, the Morrisons plan to partner with recent Talking Business feature Deliver Kings for door-to-door laundry service. Pricing is still under discussion, but it will likely be determined by the distance the driver has to travel.
For now, the Morrisons are running operations by themselves from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. But they plan to hire employees once they have figured out demand. They said there will be a lot of flexible, part-time positions available.
“We want to help people and provide a service,” Rick Morrison said. “We’re doing something so we can remain useful. This has been quite a dream come true.”