Laundry with the Internet

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 05/97) - Remember the days of plunking in dozens of coins, finding 20 different ways to sit on a hard plastic seat if there was one and reading a Harlequin novel?

Well, rest assured, those days of the laundromat blues are over.

John Coumont has found a way to take the whole dirty experience into the information age.

Coumont, who is opening The Washtub Ltd., a commercial and residential laundry service, offers a new way to wait for your laundry to dry. Instead of watching spin cycles, you can sit down on comfy seats and log onto the Internet with a coin-operated computer.

The idea of combining the Net with coin-operated machinery is the brainchild of Perry Smith of Yellowknife.

"The Internet is popular. It's the communication way of the world," says Coumont. "Since most people can't afford to have it in their own home," he says, "it's a service people want and need."

As a result, he offers the service to people frequenting the Washtub, who would normally spend an hour waiting for laundry "doing nothing."

If the Internet is not for everyone, there's a TV set aside for adults and a children's section with a TV and VCR.

The Washtub Ltd. is located on Woolgar Avenue, beside Bumper to Bumper. The facility will have about 30 washers and dryers, some with larger capacity loads.

As a boon to double-income families who value their precious leisure time, the company offers a same-day drop-off service.

"Our main market is a household that has both members of the family working," says Coumont.

On average, it takes about eight hours a week for a family of four to do their laundry, he says.

A sporadic market survey of 126 people in the community was conducted prior to establishing the business. As a result, dry cleaning and a diaper service were ruled out.

However, a coin-operated shower and wheelchair-accessible washroom were installed.

The shower should appeal to houseboaters, Ingraham Trail residents and campers, says Coumont.

Machines won't be tied up by toss-and-run customers, where their clothes languish in dryers for hours, Coumont says.

"We will not allow a machine to sit idle with clothes in it," he says.

"We'll make arrangements with a service fee so the clothes will be folded and put away. And we won't be responsible for items that are left here."

Coumont is no stranger to the business community. He ran a flooring business in Yellowknife up until the early '80s and has been a Yellowknife resident for 22 years.