The first electric wringer clothes washer was developed in the early 1900s. This ancestor of modern washing machines was quite dangerous because the motor rotated beneath the tub and could cause short circuits and shocks if water dripped onto it. This model was modified over the next few decades to improve its safety, convenience, and performance.
The real history of laundromats begins in Fort Worth, Texas, during the Great Depression. The first laundromat, which was known at the time as a “Wash-a-teria,” opened here in the 1930s. Customers loved the self-service format of the store, and soon laundromats were exploding in popularity and popping up all over the country. Typically, customers paid by the hour to use the stores’ electric, coin-operated washing machines. They appreciated being able to use the machines for a low cost, because many families couldn’t afford to purchase personal washing machines at the time. Laundromats allowed people to experience a luxury they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
1950s, 1960s, and 1970s
The public laundry concept took off in the 1950s. However, as laundromats gained popularity, the stores became increasingly beat up and battered through customer neglect. Investors began to recognize the importance of a hands-on approach to laundromat management. They invested in equipment maintenance, janitorial services, and extra services (dry-cleaning, wash-dry-fold, tailoring). After a decline in interest in the late 1950s, the self-service laundry industry swelled back up again in the 1960s and 1970s.
Over the past few decades, laundry technology has improved dramatically. Energy-efficient, low-water washers are gaining in popularity, and dryers are much faster than they were in decades past. Although many machines still rely on coin-operated mechanisms, digital card-operated payment systems are also available. Because laundromats typically operate on a self-serve, automated system, their owners can step back and manage their stores from afar. Many laundromats include amenities like free Wi-Fi, TVs, vending machines, and children’s play areas. Besides, it isn’t unusual for laundromats to remain open 24/7, an extra convenience for customers with busy schedules.
Over 2000 laundromats are in operation today in Malaysia, and they generate millions in revenue each year. With a population of 32 million people in Malaysia, the current number of self-service laundry is insufficient to meet the growing market demand.
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