When Craig and Carla Wells opened their first laundromat in Marysville in 2004, Craig was simultaneously running a vending business and working in a grocery store. “Something had to give,” he says. The couple decided to dedicate themselves full-time to the laundry business, purchasing Puget Park Laundry Station in 2006 and building the Arlington Laundry Station in 2013.
As they were building the Arlington site, they were continuously approached by people who asked, “When are you going to be open?” On man in particular persistently showed up - with his laundry - every day. “He said, ‘I want to be your first customer!’” says Craig. “When we finally opened, he was like a little kid in a candy store.”
The Laundry Stations offer Craig the opportunity to do two things he loves: fixing things and helping people understand how to get the most for their money. “I tell people there are only two things I can’t fix in the world - the common cold and a rainy day, but I’m working on those,” he says. “For a person like me, a laundromat offers all kinds of opportunities with plumbing, electrical, soap vending machines, etc. It’s constant.”
He also enjoys sharing information about the most efficient way for customers to get their washing done while saving money. “A lot of people will pack their dryers,” he says, “but if you do it that way you’re going to spend a fortune because your clothes will never dry. You actually want dryers to be about a third full. I explain to people how that works.”
In one case, a woman didn’t believe that color catcher sheets would actually allow her to wash reds and whites together without any color bleed. “I told her, ‘If it bleeds, I’ll buy you new clothes,’” says Craig. “When her laundry came out, the look on her face said it all. After that she kept asking me more questions. She’s a believer now.”
Craig can answer just about any laundry question a customer has due to an encyclopedic knowledge of the chemistry and mechanics of the industry. If you don’t believe it, try him!
In their many years in business, Wells has gained many repeat customers through their focus on making laundry day a clean, comfortable, and safe experience. “Good lighting and clean interiors are very important,” says Craig.
Although they can never completely guarantee safety, the couple has expanded attendant hours at two of their locations, with employees on-site at Marysville Laundry Station from 8:00 a.m. to closing and at Puget Park from open to close. They’ve also installed 16 surveillance cameras spread across all three of their sites that act as a deterrent.
Attendants are chosen based on their people skills. “Anyone can learn the technical side,” says Craig. “We want people that can connect with our customers.”