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A different spin

Perks at local laundries make chore less like work

Perks at local laundries make chore less like work

August 01, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

At downtown Hagerstown's Suds & Suds, the washing's cheap and the beer's cold.

"Soap powder's dirt cheap, 50 cents a box," said patron Steven Sadzinski of Hagerstown. "The people aren't rowdy. Everybody's real friendly. And my favorite, they got excellent Polish hot dogs here."

Sadzinski and other local coin-operated laundry customers praised area laundry businesses that put a new spin on the old chore by providing perks that make doing dirty laundry in public more desirable.

Suds & Suds - formally known as Friendly Café and Friendly Launderette on the corner of North Walnut and Franklin streets - "is friendly and convenient," said longtime customer Mike Haddon, who liked the atmosphere so much he decided to rent an apartment upstairs. "You can't go any other place like this where people know your name."

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Café/launderette owner Gary Saunders' business offers a full bar and reasonably priced menu just on the other side of a door leading into a small but full-service laundry that's open until midnight. Washing machines cost $1.50 per load, "and you can actually get your clothes dry for 50 cents," Sadzinski said. Launderette customers can sit at the bar while keeping tabs on their wash with a video monitor mounted inside the café.

From monitors next to the TV in their home adjacent to Pennsylvania Ave. Laundromat at 13628 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hagerstown, owners Bob and Margaret Hagelberg also keep a close eye on their laundry patrons to help ensure a safe environment for their "respectable clientele," they said.

The Hagelbergs, who opened the laundry about nine years ago at the site of a former Italian restaurant and pizza parlor, have a birds-eye view on their customers through three video cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

"When it snows and everything else shuts down, we're open. And we'll do business," Margaret Hagelberg said.

Brenda Campbell of Hagerstown said she's been spreading the word about Pennsylvania Ave. Laundromat's clean and orderly environment and many amenities.

"I've been telling people about this place," Campbell said. "It's got everything. I feel like I'm at home."

"This is the cleanest Laundromat I've ever been in. It's almost like being at home," said Debbie Benner of Maugansville, who owns a washer and dryer but took advantage of the multiple machines at the laundry to knock out her family's excess dirty laundry from a recent vacation.

Margaret Hagelberg said she and her husband decorate the inside and outside of their spacious laundry for different holidays - complementing the laundry's many appliance and detergent offerings with such accouterments as an ornamented tree during the Christmas holidays and inflatable bunnies for Easter. Pennsylvania Ave. Laundromat also features a big-screen TV and a smaller model; a VCR with a selection of family videos; chalkboards for children to draw upon; toy cars and a race track rug; benches; tables; a change machine; and snack and soda machines.

"I guess we just really wanted to make it a place where it was nice and homey to do your laundry," Hagelberg said. "Kids need something to do when they come into the laundromat. They get into trouble if they don't."

Cearfoss resident Mike Warner said he uses the child-friendly laundry once a week, doing wash while 10-year-old son Darren entertains himself with the toy cars and other playthings.

"It keeps him busy while I'm washing clothes," Warner said. "And it's air-conditioned."

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